Belgium to put €200 weekly limit on online gambling to tackle addiction

Belgium to put €200 weekly limit on online gambling to tackle addiction
An online gambling website. Credit: Belga/ Nicolas Maeterlinck

Belgium will be introducing a pay limit of €200 every week for online gambling games to curb the ever-increasing phenomenon of people being addicted to betting.

After tightening controls on gamblers in newsagents and announcing that nearly all forms of gambling advertising would be banned by the end of 2022, Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne will be introducing a limit on the amount of money that can be deposited into a player's account.

As part of the new measure, which will be mandatory for all online games of chance as of 20 October, a maximum of €200 per week can be deposited into an account.

"Players who wish to do so can submit a request to increase this limit. However, this is not possible for players on the National Bank's list of defaulters," a press release from Van Quickenborne read.

Worsening problem

In Belgium, an increasing number of gamblers are addicted to the activity, with studies pinpointing the number between 100,000 and 180,000 active gamblers who suffer from a "gambling disorder," including 40,000 to 50,000 who are said to be seriously addicted to gambling.

"The plundering of one's entire bank account or that of family members, mountains of debt that cannot be repaid within a lifetime, neglect of health, social isolation and a 15-fold increased risk of suicide are just some examples of the disastrous consequences," the press release read.

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The previous government introduced an overarching weekly playing limit of €500 per player in 2019 across all gambling platforms and accounts, however, this proved difficult to monitor in practice, which is why the limit was not implemented efficiently and failed to lower the number of gamblers with addictions.

It is hoped the weekly playing limit of €200 per account will be easier to monitor and enforce and "therefore offers effective player protection." The new law will give the Gaming Commission, the National Bank (NBB) and the gaming operators time to make the necessary technical adjustments to implement the measure.

"These rules ensure that people in debt do not get into further financial problems, addictions are kept in check and a general threshold is created for placing large bets. On the other hand, recreational players can still wager what they want because of the possibility of increasing the limits."

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