Belgian gambling regulators have given the government a blueprint to improve the country’s gambling regulation, including limits on player deposits and stakes.
Minister of justice Vincent Van Quickenborne had asked the Belgian Gaming Commission for advice regarding amendments to the Gaming Act.
Now the commission has issued a preliminary advice note with ten measures it thinks the Belgian government should implement in an updated Gaming Act, to better protect players and deal with online gaming.
The commission’s suggestions include tougher registration and identification of players linked with reliable financial data, mandatory gambling limits for players, a strict complaints procedure that operators would have to follow, better monitoring and data analysis, and stronger controls for the commission itself.
Commission president Magali Clavie said: “The Gaming Commission believes that these ten guidelines can provide a strong first impulse to better regulation of online games of chance and stronger protection of players. This is in a modern spirit that takes into account characteristics and developments specific to online games of chance.
“Depending on the strategic choices of the government, the Gaming Commission is of course prepared to develop guidelines.”
Van Quickenborne asked the Gaming Commission to issue advice regarding the implementation of Article 43/8, Section 2 of the Gaming and Betting Act. This concerns the obligations of providers who hold or apply for a Belgian gaming licence.
Details the commission recommended include changing the current system of player identification based on a passport number, which it said was the least reliable method.
It suggested instead making a digital identity check with verification of an account within 30 days and a two-factor authentication mandatory.
The regulator said it wanted to prevent players from using accounts that were not in their name and to prohibit the transfer of credits to other players on a gambling website. The Gaming Commission also suggested making payment methods linked to a verified user.
Officials also proposed introducing mandatory limits on stakes, deposits and losses.
They said regulated operators should have a duty of care to monitor the gaming behaviour of players and to intervene in case of problem gambling behaviour.
On age restrictions, the commission said the age to gamble should be the same in all sectors — currently gamblers must be at least 21 years-old to play online casino games, but only 18 for sports betting. It also wants a ban on bonuses and maximum play limits for players aged under 25.
Other points included dealing with complaints within 30 days and the payment of cash to players within three business days. Players who have not gambled for a certain amount of time should have an automatic return of their funds.
The Gaming Commission proposed putting the logo “Always Play Legally” on licensed websites so players could see immediately that a provider owns a Belgian gaming licence.
In addition, the regulator wants more resources to be able to act against illegal providers or legal providers who break the rules, adding: “A regulator must be able to exercise a real controlling role. Control and enforcement go hand in hand with player protection.
“The current resources and measures are not sufficient to fulfil the core tasks of the Gaming Commission, namely control and protection of the players.”
Belgium has already introduced some recent changes to its gambling regime, including notifying the European Commission that it wants to severely restrict gambling advertising.