Belgium’s gambling reform, a model for the industry

Lea Hogg 2 weeks ago
Belgium’s gambling reform, a model for the industry

Belgium is in the process of reshaping its gambling industry. The country is raising the legal age for all forms of gambling from 18 to 21, a significant step towards protecting younger demographics who might be more susceptible to the risks associated with gambling. This change is not merely in numbers, but a statement, a commitment to the promotion of responsible gambling.

The stricter age requirements come with a mandate for online gambling sites to refund customers below the new minimum age. This move is expected to adopt a healthier relationship between consumers and the gambling industry, as it ensures that only those of a certain age can participate in gambling activities.

However, these changes also bring about new challenges for online gambling sites. They will need to ensure their systems are compliant with the new regulations. This might involve updating their age verification processes and refund mechanisms, a task that requires both time and resources.

The impact of these changes on the gambling industry’s revenue cannot be ignored. They might lead to a decrease in the number of eligible consumers, affecting the industry’s short-term profits. However, in the long run, promoting responsible gambling could lead to a more sustainable industry, one that values the well-being of its consumers over immediate profits.

Belgium’s proactive approach could serve as a model for other countries considering similar reforms in their gambling industries. It sets a precedent, showing that it is possible to balance the profitability of the gambling industry with the need to protect vulnerable groups.

While these changes aim to protect consumers and promote responsible gambling, it’s important to note that their effectiveness will depend on their implementation and enforcement. The road to responsible gambling is a long one, but with these changes, Belgium has taken a decisive step forward.

Belgium is taking significant steps to reform its gambling industry, with a focus on protecting vulnerable demographics and promoting responsible gambling. The country is raising the legal age for all forms of gambling from 18 to 21, aligning the age requirements for sports betting, bingo, and arcades with those of land-based casinos. These changes, effective from 1 September 2024, will require online gambling sites to refund customers below the new minimum age, and stakes made without proper age verification will be returned.

ROGA, a commitment to consumer protection

In the broader context of the gambling industry, major online gambling operators in the U.S. are forming a new trade group, The Responsible Online Gaming Association (ROGA). Led by industry specialist Dr Jennifer Shatley, (pictured above), ROGA aims to enhance consumer protections and provide more efficient access to responsible gaming tools. The association comprises seven gaming operators, including FanDuel, BetMGM, Penn Entertainment, Hard Rock Digital, bet365, DraftKings, and Fanatics Betting & Gaming, covering 85 percent of the legal online betting market in the U.S.

One of ROGA’s tasks will be to create an independent data clearinghouse for sharing information related to consumer protection. However, the details of this initiative are yet to be disclosed. This move could be an attempt to address increasing public criticism against rising gambling addiction. Unlike other regions such as Europe, Australia, Brazil, and the UK, the U.S. has been slow to introduce regulation, preferring to pressure the industry into self-regulation.

In line with these developments, gambling platforms are strengthening their customer onboarding systems and implementing procedures increase security, and protect against the abuse of bonuses and promotions, such as the repeated use of a code intended only for first-time users.

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