Ban game advertising = erase legal players?

The initiative of the Minister of Justice to ban most of the advertisements for games arouses many controversies. Reason #1: You wouldn’t achieve your goal.

The Minister of Justice wants to address gambling addiction giving the heavy artillery: launched a proposal forRoyal Decree which would be equivalent to ban most ad formats for games and bets, with the exception of lottery games (National Lottery). “The greater social acceptance of online gambling, due to the multitude of advertisements that reach the population through various channels, is one of the main causes of (its) growing popularity,” according to Vincent Van Quickenborne quoted by several newspapers on Monday morning. Tens of thousands of people suffer from gambling addiction, he reminded him to justify his project, to which the MR has already said “totally opposite”. In the sector, his initiative also causes a cry.

More surprisingly, the Gambling Commission (CJH), the regulatory body of the sector, its president Magali Clavie regrets not having been consulted by the minister He regrets it all the more because a month earlier, the CJH had formulated a series of tips for better driving publicity of the games, which she had sent in a letter to all members of the federal government

stimulate the black market

On the side of sports betting operatorsthe proposed ban would lead to the opposite result to what is sought, the reduction of the number of addictive players. “Obviously it has not yet been understood that there is 700 illegal operators at work in Belgium”, fulminates Yannik Bellefroidthe CEO of Ladbrokes which periodically updates its study on the scope of this scourge. “The private sector also has nothing to learn from politics and the National Lottery,” Rich adds.

“People will no longer know which of the active operators’ sites are legal or illegal. Ultimately, this will strengthen the illegal sector and stimulate addiction.”

Yannik Bellefroid

CEO, Ladbrokes Belgium

Third argument, corollary of the first: “By prohibiting communication, we will throw a series of people into confusion: they will no longer know which, among the active operator sites, are legal or illegal. In the end, it will strengthen the illegal sector and stimulate addiction.”

at your competitor stanleybet, the CEO joris petillón share this opinion and go further demonstrating the scope of the black market risk. “He is Incredibly easy to start a gaming website outside of Belgium and offer it to the Belgian customer through movie streaming services, adult sites, the dark web, etc., he says. This market segment will now have a competitive advantage over licensed sites that communicate (communicate) through mainstream media.”

“The Minister underestimates the dynamics of the global online market.”

joris petillón

CEO, Stanleybet Belgium

“The minister underestimates the dynamics of the global online market”, concludes Joris Petillion. Who deplores that after having hit “physical” games hard through the decree that defines bookstores, the federal government is doing the same with the online games sector: “closing their channels of communicationwill force a number of these operators to close their doors.

Emmanuel Mewissen is in a different position than MM. Bellefroid and Petillion: the CEO of child1 operates both online and land-based casinos, as well as gaming rooms and sites. He is also vice president of Bago, the federation of private operators. “Must ensure public health because digital makes everything accessible, he agrees. But in doing so, one must avoid weakening legal actors, because they are the only ones who care about the health of the players”.

Digital and sponsorship channels allow refer to legal actors, defends Emmanuel Mewissen. He also advocates the “duty of accompaniment”, a concept applied in particular in Switzerland and which forces operators to intervene with players at risk.

The Gambling Commission not consulted

On the part of the authorities, in their letter dated April 5, the Gaming Commission had proposed to the federal government to restrict advertising instead of banning it target the most vulnerable that is, problem gamblers and young people. Following the same model as the duty of accompaniment, he had also advocated coregulation issuing guidelines with operatorsto be able to intervene very quickly in the event of a problem and gain efficiency.

“I learned the contents of the draft order from the press., emphasizes its president Magali Clavie. it’s worrying At CJH we have an experience that no one else has and it’s a shame to miss it. Care must also be taken to adopt rules that are applicable and verifiable”.

“I found out about the contents of the draft decree through the press. It is worrying.”

Magali Key

Chairman, Gaming Commission

There is also minor malfunctions that could be easily removed, for a minimum query between the government, the regulator and the sector, he points out. Example: the data from the EPIS system, which “lists” people banned from gambling to prevent them from playing, is not communicated to the operators that broadcast advertisements, so those who are banned from gambling continue to receive advertisements…

The summary

  • The Minister of Justice wants to tackle gambling addiction deviating from its path: it launched a proposal for a royal decree that would be equivalent to banning most advertising formats for games and bets.
  • For legal private gaming operators, i.e. those with a Belgian license and subject to a number of rules, including in terms of advertising, such a ban would amount to making the bed of illegal operatorswith ultimately much greater risks to vulnerable players.
  • by his side, the Gambling Commission had made a series of recommendations to the government to restrict and better target advertising.
  • It was not consulted by the Minister of Justice in this context.

How many gambling patients in Belgium?

How many addicted or threatened players are there in Belgium? The federal institute Sciensano conducted a study on this topic in 2018. His conclusion: between 0.2 and 0.9% of the population is addicted. That’s between 20 and 90,000 people. 0.2% corresponds to high-risk people.

Epis, the list of people banned from gambling, lists more than 230,000 registered, but this total includes entire professions, prohibited by their profession, as well as all persons under debt mediation. Much more than gaming patients…

The number of people who have registered or have been registered in Epis by their relatives is just over 40,000. We are in the lower middle part of the Sciensano range. But we should add the addicts who are still unknown, as well as those who should have (or should) register and did not. Which would probably take us to the top of the range (90,000).

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