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Belgium Raises Legal Gambling Age to 21: Impact and Insights

Belgium's decision to raise the legal gambling age to 21 reflects a proactive approach to enhancing player protection and promoting responsible gambling practices, aligning with broader efforts to safeguard vulnerable individuals in the gambling industry. Introducing stricter regulations, including bans on specific gambling devices and advertising restrictions, signifies a concerted effort to create a safer and more transparent gambling environment in Belgium.
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Christian McDeen | Caesar of Lands of Betting and Live Casino

Updated: Mar 11, 2024

Belgium Raises Legal Gambling Age to 21: Impact and Insights

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Belgium has recently announced a significant change in its gambling laws. Regulators increased the legal gambling age from 18 to 21, effective September 1, 2024. This decision, outlined in a press release by the Gaming Commission and published in the Belgium Official Gazette, aims to align age requirements across various gambling sectors, prioritizing player protection and responsible gambling practices.

The adjustment in the legal gambling age underscores Belgium's commitment to fostering a safer gambling environment. By raising the age limit, authorities seek to mitigate potential risks associated with underage gambling and promote a more secure atmosphere for individuals participating in gambling activities.

Alongside the increase in the legal gambling age, the revised regulations introduce several measures aimed at enhancing player protection and responsible gambling practices. These measures include a ban on specific gambling devices, known as “3.3” devices, to address associated risks and ensure safer gambling experiences. Additionally, operators are prohibited from accumulating online licenses on the same platform to prevent exploitation and safeguard vulnerable players from excessive gambling.

Furthermore, the regulations impose restrictions on offering players bonuses, gifts, or free games, aiming to reduce incentives for excessive gambling behavior and mitigate associated risks. Advertising restrictions have also been introduced, with a ban on advertising games of chance to minimize exposure to gambling advertisements, particularly among vulnerable populations such as minors and problem gamblers.

In line with the new regulations, individuals failing to provide proof of age will be eligible for refunds. This highlights the importance of effective age verification measures and operator responsibility in verifying customer age.

Gambling Age LawThe raised legal gambling age will necessitate adjustments from both operators and players within Belgium's gambling industry. Operators will need to ensure compliance with the new regulations, including adapting marketing strategies to adhere to advertising bans and implementing rigorous age verification processes to prevent underage gambling.

For players, particularly those aged 18 to 21, the increase in the legal gambling age means a delay in accessing certain gambling activities until they reach the age of 21. However, this change aims to protect them from potential harm associated with underage gambling and underscores the importance of responsible gambling practices.

While raising the legal gambling age is intended to promote player safety, certain aspects of the revised regulations have raised concerns. Critics, including the Belgium Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO), express reservations about the blanket ban on gambling advertising, fearing it may inadvertently benefit illegal operators and hinder consumer awareness of legal gambling options.

Tom De Clercq, Chair of BAGO, advocates for targeted advertising limitations rather than a complete ban. He emphasizes the importance of responsible advertising practices and effective regulation in maintaining a healthy and well-regulated gambling industry.

Belgium's decision to raise the legal gambling age reflects ongoing efforts to enhance player protection and promote responsible gambling practices. However, ongoing dialogue and collaboration between regulators, operators, and industry stakeholders will be essential to address concerns and ensure a balanced regulatory framework prioritizes player safety and industry sustainability.

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