Belgian Association of Gaming Operators, which represents the six largest operators in Belgium, created an self-imposed duty of care mandate.
After signing the agreement on Tuesday, Belgium’s largest operators will implement a number of measures in order to detect and prevent gambling problems.
Six of the largest operators in Belgium have implemented this charter. The Ardent Group is comprised of six groups: Golden Palace, Kindred Casinos, Napoleon Sports & Casinos, and Starcasino.
The agreement now includes the other operators in the gambling industry of Belgium, who represent 70%.
The Belgian political sector’s “demonisation”
BAGO Duty of Care was created in response to an Association that felt “demonised by” the Belgian Political Sector.
Emmanuel Mewissen, vice-president and CEO of BAGO, and the Ardent Group, outlined BAGO’s position in a recent L’Echo interview.
He said that “indecent numbers are being thrown into the public.” The reality is the industry is only worth EUR2bn, not EUR20bn like some claim.
He continued: “We have seen the use of words like ‘tsunami,’ ‘wild West’ to defame this sector.” All of this has led to distrust towards us.
Duty of Care Pillars
Each operator must adhere to four “pillars”, or duties, that are outlined in the BAGO Duty of Care.
First, an algorithmically-focused uniform detection system will identify scientifically-based criteria, also known as “markers of harm”.
Second, the focus will be on communication with players. The second will focus on player communication.
Third, develop programmes of education and training for the staff. It is hoped they can quickly detect potential problems with better training.
Tom de Clercq is the chairman of BAGO. “Our goal is to create an environment where players can gamble responsibly and safely,” he said.
This duty of care can be a valuable addition to existing protection measures. More and more operators use artificial intelligence and algorithms to detect emerging problem gaming behavior at an early phase.
He continued, “We are offering players solutions and even encouraging them to sign up for the EPIS. EPIS is the self-exclusion system for this country. This is the best way to combat gambling addiction.
Protecting players against the black market
Mewissen added, “We need to understand that only the sector that is regulated will be able to apply rules that protect players.”
The Royal Decree of Belgium, which came into effect on 1 July 2023 and banned all advertising for gambling in Belgium, whether it be radio, television, print or online, will ban nearly all forms of gambling promotion, nationwide.
Industry critics have labelled the ban as an advantage for the illicit market.
BAGO also continues to emphasize that when the government chose to ban the product, it did so against the recommendations of the regulator in the country.