Belgium has announced a blanket ban on all advertising relating to gambling, three years after ministers set in motion a plan re-sensitise the public to the dangers of betting related ads.
The legislation will come into effect on July 1st of this year, and is by far the most comprehensive ruling of its kind anywhere in Europe with television, radio, print media and public billboards all incorporated into the ban.
Although plans were drawn up as early as 2020, the nation has been intent on pushing through tougher legislation on gambling advertising, after unearthing scientific evidence that proved a direct correlation with betting-related debt.
Officially approved last year, the ‘Royal Decree on Gambling Advertising Reforms’ was originally thought up by Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne, and upon the latest announcement in the government’s gazette, he said: “With the publication in the Belgian Official Gazette, the decision is now clear; gambling advertising will be seriously restricted from 1 July 2023.
“This is necessary because the normalisation and trivialisation of gambling must finally stop.”
Europe’s gambling market topped €108.5 billion in gross revenue by the end of 2022, which is a monumental 8% increase pre-pandemic gambling levels.
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has contested Belgium’s blanket ban however, highlighting the dangers of removing regulated platforms from the public sphere.
“Without advertising, there is no real way for Belgians to tell the difference between a gambling website which is safe – because it is licensed and applies the consumer protection rules in Belgium – and one that is not”, Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the EGBA said.
“Under the law, lottery products will continue to be advertised which will directly benefit the state-owned lottery provider over other Belgian licensed providers.”
Based on research showing that advertising fuels gambling addiction and gambling-related debt, gambling advertising will be fully banned in Belgium from July 1st. In 2025 gambling ads in stadiums go too, followed in 2028 by sports sponsorships. #GamblingCare https://t.co/n6qPqZhf0a
— GamblingCare (@gambling_care) March 9, 2023
Much has been made about the impact of gambling advertisement in sports arenas, particularly in football where betting companies have dominated club sponsorships and stadium naming rights in Belgium itself, and across Europe.
As mentioned, the nationwide blanket ban will come into effect in early July, but a special provision has been implemented to phase out gambling ads within football stadia by 2025, although professional and amateur clubs will have to cut ties with any contractual obligations with sports betting deals by January 2028.