Published: January 12, 2024

Belgium’s VAD urges changes to minimum betting age

A Belgian watchdog organization has asked for the age of legal gambling to be raised.

The Flemish Center of expertise on alcohol and other drugs (VAD) has asked Belgium’s government to act on increasing the legal age of all gambling activities to 21.

The partner organization of the Flemish government takes an active approach to prevention and education on topics such as drug and alcohol abuse.

Current minimum age for Belgians

Currently Belgian gambling law allows online betting and lotteries to accept bets from people of 18 years or older, with physical betting accounts restricted to 21 years of age.

Across Europe the average age for gambling accounts is 18, compared to most United States regulators. Many U.S. states require any would-be gambler to have reached 21 before placing their first online or physical bet.

Duty of care introduced by Belgian big six

“Our focus is on creating an environment in which players can participate in games of chance responsibly and safely,” says Tom De Clercq, Chairman of the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO).

In November 2023, several Belgian gambling operators signed the Duty of Care Agreement. BAGO comprises the Ardent Group, Betfirst, Golden Palace, Kindred, Napoléon Sports & Casinos, and Star Casino groups.

All made it clear they take political pressure to increase transparency and reform seriously. Damien Thiéry, Secretary General of BAGO, said, “Legal gaming operators want to offer a safe form of entertainment. You simply do not build sustainable economic activity based on addictions.”

The Duty of Care Act has introduced an algorithm-based detection system to identify patterns of  ‘risky behavior’ otherwise known by the act as ‘markers of harm.’

Alongside this, the Belgian Gaming Commission will be given access to the prevention policy to ensure that BAGO’s staff are trained and educated correctly. This will ensure that reality checks and intervention by gambling operators are valuable and helpful to those most at risk.

Belgium isn’t the only EU nation taking on gambling reform, as the Italian Government announced sweeping changes to current gambling legislation. Known as the Reorganisation Decree, the legislation was proposed by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance (MEF).

© Public Gaming Research Institute. All rights reserved.