Deals between professional sports organizations and gambling companies help bring valuable proceeds for the clubs, allowing them to continue to grow. Yet amid concerns about an increase in sports betting activities and consequently risky or problem gambling behavior, many countries around Europe are strengthening their regulations. This applies not only to gambling sponsorships but external advertising and Belgium is one of the countries that is set to implement new strict rules.
Last year, Vincent Van Quickenborne, Belgium’s Minister of Justice, proposed changes related to the promotion of gambling activities. The proposed changes called for a strict ban on gambling advertising that seeks to curb problem gambling and at the same time reduce the exposure of such products. The proposed changes immediately captured the attention of the regulated gambling sector, as well as sports organizations that filed lawsuits with 11 courts, urging against the nationwide ban on gambling advertising and tough new restrictions.
Now, it seems that those efforts were in vain, at least for the moment, considering that the lawsuits were dismissed, clearing the path for the new regulations to come into effect starting from July 1, 2023, a report released by Het Nieuwsblad reveals. Van Quickenborne commented on the topic pointing out: “Hopefully this will put an end to all attempts at lobbying and legal sabotage from the gambling sector and sectors that are addicted to gambling money.”
Tough Restrictions Come Into Effect in July
The new restrictions would significantly limit the options for gambling advertising in Belgium. Starting from July 1, gambling ads will not be allowed to air on TV, at cinemas or via radio or social media.
The rules ban gambling advertisements from websites, as well as newspapers and magazines. Gambling ads will not be able to appear in public places in the form of banners, posters or stickers. Any printed gambling advertising will also be prohibited while customizable ads distributed via post, online messaging services, social media or emails will be prohibited.
Per the new regulations, owners of businesses such as casinos are allowed to place the name and logo at the front of the venue. Advertisements would be permitted to appear on the inside of betting venues and casinos.
The tough new restrictions echo the changes planned in Belgium’s neighbor, the Netherlands. Similar to Belgium, the company plans to introduce a ban on gambling advertising starting from July 1 but featuring even more restrictions.
It is clear that betting and gaming companies in Belgium are not happy with the upcoming changes to gambling advertising. Sports organizations are similarly concerned, especially football clubs that have established deals with gambling operators. While further appeals and court cases aren’t impossible, it is likely such legal actions to take place after the ban is already enforced.