Stricter rules for gambling advertising in Belgium and Italy

Online gambling has boomed in the whole of Europe over the last ten years. More and more websites offer a variety of forms of online gambling and the number of gamblers and the amounts that have been used are constantly rising. Many countries, including Belgium, already have strict conditions for offering games of chance, but the observation is that there is also a need for stricter rules regarding the advertising of those same games of chance. Today we see that advertising for games of chance and in particular for sports betting is very much present in the media and that among other young people are very susceptible to the message that this advertisement conveys.

So it was time for our legislator to tighten the rules on online advertising and we see these stricter rules in other EU member states.

Stricter rules in Belgium

Strict rules on gambling advertising already apply in Belgium. Minister of Justice Koen Geens presented a preliminary draft bill last June 2018, together with a series of royal decrees that should protect the player better by restricting advertising for games of chance and expand the possibilities for local authorities to control betting and café games. The design has now been approved in the Council of Ministers and will soon be submitted to the parliament.

Advertising for games of chance will be prohibited:

  • during the live coverage of sports competitions (regardless of the medium used). This means that no gambling advertisement may be broadcast during an interruption of a game, race or contest
  • 15 minutes before and after programs that specifically address children and minors
  • before 8 pm, except in the case of the broadcast of sports matches (before and after a sports competition that is broadcast live in the afternoon gambling advertising is permitted, but not during the sports competition)
  • on sports equipment and equipment of underage sports teams

Further measures:

  • Only 1 spot for gambling can be shown per advertising block.
  • all commercials will have to contain a message about responsible gaming and must state the minimum age, together with the message ‘gamble in moderation’.

Limitation of games of chance in the pubs:

  • the automatic machines that are placed in pubs such as electronic card games are brought under the control of the gambling commission and the municipalities
  • per cafe a maximum of 4 devices is now set that can only function with coins
  • All devices are equipped with an E-ID card reader to check the age condition of 18 years
  • the municipalities will now decide on the granting of the permit for these aircraft.

Fewer betting offices and public participation municipalities:

  • the number of betting offices will gradually decrease from 684 betting offices to 600.

The rules also tighten in other countries

The rules also tighten in other countries. In particular, the Italian Parliament recently ratified Decree-Law No 87 of 12 July 2018, known in Italy under the name ‘Distinguishing Decree’, which sets a general ban on gambling ads throughout Italy. The intention is to strengthen consumer protection and prevent gambling addiction. The ban is effective from July 14, 2018.

General prohibition

The prohibition includes any advertising, including indirect advertising, in relation to games of chance with cash winnings in any manner whatsoever, including sporting, cultural or artistic events, television and radio broadcasts, the daily and periodic press, any genre of publications billboards and internet.

From 1 January 2019, the ban will also apply to sponsorship of events, activities, meetings, programs, products or services and to all forms of communication of promotional content, including visual and acoustic slogans or names and images of brands and logos for gaming activities. or providers.

Some exceptions have survived the ban:

  • National lotteries
  • Local events
  • Logos on safe and responsible gambling from the Customs and Monopolies Bureau.
  • Advertising agreements that have already been concluded on the date of the conclusion of the Decree will remain valid until the expiry date or until 14 July 2019 at the latest

In case of violation of the prohibition, a penalty of 5% of the value of the sponsorship or the advertising with a minimum of 50,000 euros will apply.

Questions about games of chance or about advertising law in Belgium and the rest of Europe?

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