Belgium plans to ban all forms of gambling advertising

  • New rules regarding gambling advertisements will be official by the end of 2022.
  • Federal Justice Minister says more than 100,000 gamblers show “problematic gambling behaviour”.
  • The negative impact on football clubs is still up for discussion.
Banned ads in Belgium
The Federal Justice Minister in Belgium has proposed banning all forms of gambling advertising by the end of 2022. How this will affect sports sponsorships and the National Lottery remains to be seen.

As more countries look to legalise gambling, some want to protect players from the harm that gambling can cause.

The Belgium government has just announced that they are looking to ban all forms of gambling advertising by the end of 2022. Others wonder how this will affect markets such as sports sponsorships and the Belgium National Lottery.

Gambling: The new smoking


Advertising in its many forms is set to be banned entirely in Belgium. This ban will include adverts running on television, radio, social media, street posters, and newspapers. Contacting existing players via personalised emails and texts will also be banned should the new bill in the draft Royal Decree be accepted.

In a press release by the Federal Justice Minister, Vincent van Quickenborne said:

“Gambling is the new smoking. The gambling industry is making more and more profit in our country, all ‘thanks to’ people with a gambling addiction.
Gambling advertising is fired at us from all sides every day and encourages these addictions, including among young people. More than 100,000 gamblers show problematic gambling behaviour, and a third of them already have serious addictions.”

The only exception to the rules currently appears to be gambling logos displayed at casino venues and gambling halls. But others want clarity on how this ban will affect their own advertising opportunities.

Markets in the dark


After the announcement about the ban was made, the CEO of Pro League, Lorin Parys, decided to seek a consultation with the government. Parys is searching for clarity on whether advertising via sponsorships of sports teams will also be banned. If this is the case, Parys estimates that it would cut their earnings by up to 12%.

Senator Bouchez is also calling for the government to clarify if the ban will apply to the Belgium National Lottery or not. When Dennis Mariën, General Manager of Kindred Belgium, was asked to comment on this development, he said:

“The finding that 40 per cent of the media expenditure by the sector is attributable to the lottery does raise questions about the government’s claim about strict rules for the lottery in the interest of player protection.
We are a strong supporter of stricter rules and a duty of care to combat problematic gambling. But it is a pity that none of the ministers came to talk to us. Moreover, they ignore the advice of their own watchdog – the Gaming Commission, which does not advocate this.”

The Belgium government has caused fears and concerns to rise with this announcement, and they will need to clarify more about the situation before finalising any decisions.

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