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Is a gambling ad ban coming to Belgium?

The Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) has suggested that it might consider ad restrictions in the country, in a newly-released report.

The report looked into advertising during the 2019 Juniper Pro League playoffs. It was critical about how gambling ads have become so prominent in football.

Betting in Belgian football 

Of the 18 clubs in Belgium’s top division, it was revealed that 14 were sponsored by gambling operators last season. This included all six that participated in the end-of-season playoffs – Genk, Club Brugge, Standard Liège, Anderlecht, Gent and Royal Antwerp. One of those clubs, Genk, asked the BGC for more clarity on ad regulations last November.

In addition to the above, the league is sponsored by Unibet. When speaking about the matter, the report said:

“The analysis of the gambling advertising shown during the football play-offs and the analysis of the betting data show, on the one hand, that gambling advertising is ubiquitous in football events and on the other hand, that an increase in gambling activity can be observed on the playing days of the play-offs.

“The strong relationship between football and gambling, however, can give the public the impression that both matters are inextricably linked, which can furthermore lead to the normalisation of gambling behaviour.”

What happens next?

The BGC stated that it would have to look deeper into whether or not stricter ad laws were needed. It’s possible that a whistle-to-whistle ban, as has been implemented in the UK, could soon be brought here too.

The commission’s report was also concerned about gambling ads on clubs’ social media profiles, as well as on their websites where sponsors’ logos are displayed.

The report said that it is “necessary to know whether quantitive restrictions on advertising can be implemented”. It mentioned that this could “range from an advertising ban, a ban on sponsoring sports clubs or product placement, over a point system to a maximum percentage of the public space that can be occupied by such advertising messages”.

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