Belgian Operators Agree Voluntary Care Code

November 20, 2023
The six members of the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators have agreed to abide by a new voluntary duty of care requirement.

The six members of the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) have agreed to abide by a new voluntary duty of care requirement. 

The code aims to develop an addiction prevention policy that identifies and prevents problematic gaming behaviour more quickly.

The agreement, announced on November 15, explains that new detection systems will all follow four key requirements, including actions or recommendations to protect players such as providing information about possible risks.

Additionally, the detection system will be based on algorithms, artificial intelligence and scientifically based criteria (markers of harm) that identify potentially risky behaviour, the group said.

The trade association’s member operators will provide education and training for staff, and have committed to sharing these plans with the Belgian Gaming Commission.

BAGO also called on the government to “make a Duty of Care legally mandatory for all legal gambling operators in Belgium, including the National Lottery”.

BAGO is composed of Ardent Group, BetFirst, Golden Palace, Napoleon, Star Casino and Kindred.

Data collected by research group Sciensano estimates that 0.9 percent of the population is at risk of gambling harm, the group said.

“We want to avoid that at all costs, because legal gaming operators want to offer a safe form of entertainment. You simply don't build sustainable economic activity on the back of addictions,” said BAGO secretary general Damien Thiéry.

“Our focus is on creating an environment in which players can participate in gambling in a responsible and safe manner,” said Tom De Clercq, chairman of BAGO. 

“Such a duty of care is a useful addition to other existing protective measures, such as the [self-exclusion] EPIS check and the deposit limit with associated checks on default.”

The trade group also took the opportunity to criticise the recent crackdown on gambling advertising in Belgium, claiming it threatens to undercut responsible gambling measures undertaken by the regulated industry.

Emmanuel Mewissen, vice chairman of BAGO, said: “It is not enough to create a safe legal gaming environment. The players must also be able to find their way to it. And that is becoming increasingly difficult, as legal operators have been banned from advertising. Today, one in five Belgians already plays in the illegal circuit. Tomorrow it might be two out of five.”

From July 1, gambling ads have been banned on television, radio, websites, social media platforms, newspapers posters in public places, personalised advertisements sent by email, post messaging services, SMS or social networks and any printed advertising material.

Most sports sponsorships are also set to become illegal after a transitional period that ends in January 2025, although logos not on the front of player shirts will be permitted until the end of 2027.

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