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Belgian group calls for gambling age to be raised to 21

| By Marese O'Hagan
The Belgian expertise centre for alcohol, illegal drugs, psychoactive medication, gambling and gaming (VAD) has called for the minimum age to gamble in Belgium to be raised to 21.
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VAD works with the Flemish government and acts as an umbrella group for over 70 substance and addiction groups. The organisation is calling for the minimum gambling age to increase, in a memorandum out this week.

As well as gambling, the document details nine of VAD’s priorities for policies on alcohol, psychoactive medication, video games and illegal drugs.

Need for “consistent legislation”

Belgian gambling
The memorandum sets out nine key priorities for VAD

In reference to both gambling and alcohol, the memorandum calls for stopping access to both by looking at three “cost-effective measures in legislation”. These are: price increases; advert bans; and limiting availability.

According to VAD, limiting availability includes raising the minimum age for gambling to 21 and the purchase of alcohol to 18.

Currently, Belgians cannot gamble with casinos and slot machines – both online and retail – until the age of 21. However, the minimum age to place online or retail bets is 18.

VAD said that limiting access to gambling and alcohol could also help to protect people in vulnerable situations.

Developments in care for Belgian gamblers

This is the latest move to address Belgium’s gambling market. In November last year, the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) created a self-imposed mandate for a duty of care.

BAGO represents six of the market’s most popular operators, accounting for 70% of Belgium’s gambling sector. These are Ardent Group, Betfirst, Golden Palace, Kindred, Napoléon Sports & Casinos and Starcasino.

The duty of care mandate saw the operators commit to measures to monitor problem gambling within their customer base. These include a uniform detection system, player communication and staff training.

The duty of care was created in response to BAGO stating that it had been “demonised” by the political sector in Belgium. In an interview with L’Echo Emmanuel Mewissen, vice-president of BAGO, said attempts had been made to “discredit” Belgium’s gambling market.

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