Belgium: Online gambling operators considering action against weekly deposit limits

iGaming operators in Belgium are considering a battle against the €500 weekly deposit limit introduced by the country’s gambling regulator. 

The Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) last week introduced these restrictions to curb potential gambling-related harm, which could arise during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Players have the opportunity to lower this limit even further, should they wish to. 

No consultation between the regulator and operators 

In Belgian newspaper L’Echo, Emmanuel Mewissen – President of the Belgian Association of Gambling Operators (BAGO) – said that operators were infuriated about the decision. 

Mewissen was also concerned that players would turn to websites that are licensed internationally, but not in Belgium. The BGC would therefore not be able to properly control gambling in the country. 

Because licensed operators were not consulted before the BGC implemented the new restrictions, BAGO intends to submit an appeal to the Belgian Council of State. 

Would the limit further impact operators’ revenue? 

According to Justice Minister Koen Geens, online gambling traffic has declined by 38% since coronavirus gripped Belgium. Meanwhile, ticket sales for the National Lottery have dropped by 30%. 

According to Geens, part of this was due to the lack of sporting activity. Along with other European leagues, Belgium’s top football division has been suspended. The last round of fixtures was played on 7th March. 

However, the Justice Minister believes that the drop in gambling activity is also due to other factors. He thinks that “in the current anxiety-provoking climate, people are losing confidence and playing less”. 

At the time of writing, 30,589 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Belgium. 3,903 deaths here have been linked to the virus.

The country has extended its national lockdown until 19th April. If the infection rate does not slow by then, this will be pushed back to 3rd May. 

All of Belgium’s land-based gambling outlets have been closed, meaning that gambling is limited to online for now. Lottery ticket sales have also had their regulations slightly altered, to encourage people to leave their homes less often.

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