Belgium’s gambling regulator has imposed new online weekly deposit limits to ensure gamblers don’t get carried away during their COVID-19 self-isolation.
On Monday, the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) announced that customers of locally licensed gambling sites would be limited to €500 in weekly deposits per player across all licensed sites. The new limit came shortly after the BGC issued advice to players on how to manage the temptation to gamble as a means of alleviating the boredom of social isolation.
There is no mechanism to increase the €500 limit but customers can apply to have a lower limit. This reduction, which will be applied immediately, can be requested through individual gambling sites. The limit can later be restored to the €500 maximum but the change won’t take effect for three days to ensure gamblers aren’t ‘chasing’ losses.
The BGC is currently focused on its online licensees’ activity following the mass shutdown of land-based gambling options – casinos, slots halls, cafés with betting kiosks, retail betting offices, even sales in newsagents – to prevent further transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Last week, the BGC extended this retail shutdown to April 19 following guidance from the government.
The government has offered retail operators the option to request tax breaks equal to 1/12 of their annual fee for each month that the lockdown persists.
The BGC recently announced the appointment of Magali Clavie as its new chair, taking over from Etienne Marique. Clavie has established a goal of ‘evolving’ the regulator into ‘Gaming Commission 2.0,’ which will apparently focus on player protection and “the control of a strictly regulated gaming sector.”
Neither the government nor local media have yet to follow up on February’s reports that the country’s corruption watchdog was probing senior BGC figures, including director Peter Naessens, for alleged “serious’ integrity breaches, including accepting gifts from BGC licensees.
LOTTERY ADAPTS TO MARKET REALITY
Belgium’s National Lottery has seen its sales drop 30% since the pandemic took hold, and was recently forced to amend its rules to address the new market reality.
For instance, newsagents will now be paid a commission for each ticket sold rather than earning a commission only when weekly sales top €100, while players will now be able to purchase tickets for the next 10 draws in advance to minimize the need to travel to a shop.
Winning tickets will now be redeemable for 30 weeks following a draw rather than 20 weeks, while winners holding tickets worth €100k or higher will no longer have to travel to National Lottery HQ to claim their prize. A Lottery rep will now be dispatched to the winner’s home to collect the ticket for verification.