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The Netherlands and Belgium's restrictive new gambling laws

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The Netherlands and Belgium Gaming Authorities tighten player protection with harsh new advertising and deposit laws.


In an interesting turn of events, two very successful online gambling jurisdictions, the Netherlands and Belgium, announced new gambling laws.

Even though they sit on opposing sides of the conversation around international multi-licensing casino regulation, both announcements are highly restrictive.

Dutch gambling ads come under fire

The Netherlands holds the view that the government's role is to facilitate its citizens' free will while guarding against what it perceives to be apparent threats. In terms of games of chance, this means allowing access to online casinos in the Netherlands while disrupting any actions that could lead to compulsive gambling.

The gambling authority believes that advertising online casino games, bonuses and other promotions has become a high-risk factor. In response, they announced a ban on "untargeted" casino ads, effective 1 January 2023.

Franc Weerwind, Minister for Legal protection, said:

"Advertising is a means of directing people to the legal offer, but the importance of addiction prevention is more important. With this, I want to protect vulnerable groups such as young people in particular."

An "untargeted" ad is shown to a broad selection of people without understanding the needs or demographic of the viewer. This regulation will affect online casino ads on television, radio and public facilities such as sports stadiums.

A special dispensation will be given to existing sponsorships of television shows and sports teams. These will be banned on 1 January 2024 and 1 January 2025.

There are also plans to ban untargeted online ads by online casinos in the Netherlands. They will allow targeted advertising to continue, given that the casino can prove that its ads will only reach adults over the age of 24.

Harsh new Belgian deposit limits

Belgium has chosen to limit its resident's access to online casino games by offering online licenses to its small pool of nine land-based casinos. The Belgium Gaming Commission (BGC) is known to act against any offshore gambling sites, both online and land-based, which it perceives to be targeting local players.

Belgium regulations will now not only restrict players to gambling at local casinos but as of 20 October 2022, deposits will be limited to €200 per week per venue.

The BGC advised:

"From October 20, 2022, all limits for all players will be reset to 200 euros, including players who have increased their limit in the past."

The Royal Decree does, however, make allowance for individuals to request a deposit limit increase from an online casino.

In this case, the casino will submit the player's information to the National Bank of Belgium, and a complete financial audit will occur. While a successful audit will see the deposit limit lifted, it will trigger an ongoing weekly review to ensure that the player maintains a clean financial record.

The BGC recommended that players spend only 5% of their income to "avoid becoming a problematic player and because playing should be fun".

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