Published: May 13, 2022

Belgium Is the Latest Country to Strengthen Gambling Ad Regulations With Potential Ban

The proposal has been made across all forms of marketing apart from sport sponsorships

Belgium is the latest country to crack down on sports betting ads with its Minister of Justice announcing his proposal of an outright ban on the advertising of sports gambling across the country earlier this week.

In a measure to combat gambling addiction across the country, Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne intends to introduce the ban before the end of the year.

Just last month, the U.K. banned celebrities and influencers from appearing in gambling ad campaigns with partial bans already imposed across most of Europe. Calls were also made by a minister in Germany last year to introduce more restrictive measures around the marketing of gambling even after it had introduced a State Treaty on the sector just a few months earlier.

The Belgian ban would propose the prevention of betting companies from promoting their offers through TV, radio, newspapers, out of home, across digital platforms and over social media within the country.

In a statement outlining his reasons for putting the draft bill forward to receive Royal Decree, Van Quickenborne said: “Gambling is the new smoking. The gambling industry is making more and more profit in our country, all ‘thanks to’ people with a gambling addiction.”

He continued to claim: “Gambling advertising is fired at us from all sides every day and encourages these addictions, including among young people. More than 100,000 gamblers show problematic gambling behavior and a third of them already have serious addictions.”

Promoting health or puritanical views?

In response to the proposals, the country’s National Lottery has pleaded to be exempt from the ban, with its chief executive telling a local radio station that it was “not a gambling company” and adding that “There is no problem with lotteries, they have been around for hundreds of years. Until about six years ago there was no problem with gambling addictions, until the gambling market was liberalized.”

In response to the proposals a prominent Belgian lawyer, Georges-Louis Bouchez, tweeted his total opposition, describing the measure as “excessive” and added that it would create “great financial difficulties” for the sports sectors among others which depend on the sponsorship revenue from betting brands.

“Do we really need the death of football in this country?” he asked before also describing the proposal as “puritan.”

However, the proposals will offer an exemption to sponsorship deals with betting brands, with limits on physical branding being shown within venues and on sports uniforms. The bans will directly relate to on-screen and loudspeaker announcements, explained Sports Pro Media’s report.

Belgium’s men’s national soccer team, which currently sits second in the world for the FIFA Rankings, includes Asian gaming brand KOK Sports among its sponsors with a deal that grants branding rights across the team’s physical and digital assets.

Meanwhile, the most recent champions of the country’s men’s soccer league Club Brugge agreed the largest sponsorship deal in its history in 2019 with Malta-based online betting company Unibet to appear on the front of the player’s shirts.

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