Belgian gamblers may soon find significantly lower deposit limits at online casinos.
Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne recently proposed amendments to the Royal Decree on Games of Chance and the Protection of Players, lowering the deposit limit to €200 (~$236.18) a week.
The Council of Ministers in Belgium approved the amendments, and the lower deposit limit is one step closer to fruition. If lawmakers approve the reduction, the Belgium Gambling Commission (BGC) and the National Bank of Belgium will implement the deposit changes.
Last year, the BGC changed the weekly deposit limit to €500 ($590.45) as an additional player protection during the pandemic. Officials said the limit would stay in place until changes occurred regarding COVID-19. However, the limit remained in place.
At the time, the BGC was worried about problem gambling as players were stuck at home due to the onset of the pandemic. The Commission felt the risk of developing a gambling problem was much higher at the height of the pandemic due to lack of entertainment and more time spent in isolation.
Now, the amendments revise the deposit limits once again, this time to a much lower amount. The new €200 a week limit is a more than 50% reduction from the previous limit.
Operators who violate the deposit limits set by officials could face penalties from the Belgium Gaming Commission. Officials expect operators to pay back funds over the limit to the player.
More Player Protections
On top of the significant cut, the amendments also impose more player protections. A player registry is to be created based on consumer protections and an individual’s ability to afford to gamble. The amendments also require updates to the Excluded Persons Information System in Belgium. Officials created the system in 2004.
For players who decide to log onto to Belgian gambling sites, the decree now calls for the person to register with their name and date of birth. The information is checked within the Excluded Persons Information System to make sure the player is eligible for gaming. The overall goal is to use the system to stop players who have a gambling problem from accessing services.
Online Gambling Policies
In Belgium, the gaming policy covers two sectors; the public lotteries that function via the National Lottery and online gambling operators with licensing from the BGC. Only licensed operators are allowed to offer services, and they must adhere to policies set by the Commission, including the deposit limit change if it is officially approved.
The decree is now under review by the Belgian Data Protection Authority. Next, it moves on to the Council of State. If both groups give the green light, then the new deposit limit becomes law.
Currently, the BGC offers only a limited number of licenses to operators. The BGC just updated its list of licensed providers, and it includes a shortlist of names. Betway, Unibet, and bwin are among the brands that are approved to offer services.
Illegal operators that offer iGaming in Belgium can face warnings or fines from the BGC. Officials use a blacklist to prevent residents from accessing illegal sites. The website of the Commission lists the sites that are blacklisted.