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Belgian Parliament discussing stricter gambling rules

Belgium’s Parliamentary Finance Committee is debating a new bill that would reform existing gambling laws, as reported by The Bulletin.

belgium laws

The bill, from Green MP Stefaan van Hecke, would involve the introduction of a global age limit of 21 years, as well as the restriction of gambling and advertising sponsorship.

It comes after Bpost, a national and international mail company based in Brussels, sold 175 of its newsagents to gambling company Golden Palace. The sale has drawn criticism amid fears that it could “open a backdoor to gambling via its various lottery products,” The Bulletin reported.

Parties have already agreed on a small number of legislative adjustments, including a rule that gambling in newsagents can only be done with an eID, and the banning of certain slot machines.

Such slot machines, called 3.3 machines, are not subject to any controls, despite using familiar symbols of traditional casino games like cards and dice. They are commonly found in petrol stations, youth centres and shopping centres. The new legislation would ban them entirely.

Stricter identity checks and monetary limitations on these slot machines is also being considered, with Van Hecke saying being able to bet up to €200 ($226) - which is currently allowed - will “become a thing of the past.”

Persuading customers to gamble through incentives is another area being closely analysed, while another potential law would involve the banning of combining different licences on one website, for example a sports betting website will not allow customers to click through to a casino games website.

While there is agreement on many issues, the proposal of the global age limit of 21 was met with some opposition, but Van Hecke remained positive about the situation, saying: “We have not been able to find an agreement on that within the government. But that is not a step backwards, it is not a relaxation. The situation as it is today is simply frozen.”

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