Belgian Council of State upholds Gaming Commission advertising rules

The Council of State, Belgian’s supreme administrative court, has provided an overview of rulings relating to Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) stances on advertising and affordability. 

Issuing a summarising update on the terms of a 2019 Royal Decree, the Council supported the Gaming Commission’s statement that advertising messaging must meet the conditions that apply to games of chance if related to these products. 

Sponsorship has also been upheld as a form of advertising, defining such arrangements as transactions ‘aimed at the creation of a promotional association’ between the sponsor and the sponsored sports team or event etc. 

Additionally, the Gaming Commission’s stance on messaging was supported, with the Council stating that the minimum age requirement and ‘Gamble in moderation!” slogan must be clearly viewable. 

The Council added: “For visual messages, the entry is continuously present throughout the message if it contains moving or changing images. With auditory messages, the mentions can be heard at least at the end of the message.”

Lastly, judges also continued to back the Gaming Commission’s assessment of broadcasting advertising requirements and the marketing of betting content to minors, agreeing with the regulator that a ban on advertising during sports tournaments extends beyond TV and radio.

However, the body added that advertising is permitted if its omission ‘would make the broadcasting of the sports match impossible’, siding with the Commission’s assessment that a ban on such commercials should not mean that futures could not be broadcast. 

The court explained: “The burden of proof for this impossibility lies with the persons who distribute the advertisement. In this regard, they are expected to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the broadcast can nevertheless take place.

“If the Gaming Commission is of the opinion in a specific case that unauthorised advertising was broadcast during the live coverage of sports matches, it is up to the broadcaster to demonstrate that the reporting of the sports match could not have taken place without advertising.”

The Council’s final judgement with regards to advertising stated that the public position ‘lists a number of criteria’ that will be used by the Commission to determine whether or not marketing has been aimed at minors. 

Additional areas of judgement included support for the BGC’s view that betting operators must refuse ‘any intervention’ by electronic payments providers if said providers allow users to make credit card transactions. 

However, the court did assert that the Commission does not have the authority to enforce its preferred policy of resetting the default deposit limit to €500 after a player has been inactive for six months. 

The judgements on advertising come shortly after Vincent Van Quickenborn, Belgium’s Justice Minister, proposed a Royal Decree that would prohibit sports betting marketing in sports by 2024.

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