Kindred warning over Belgian advertising restrictions

9 November 2018

Kindred Group has warned the Belgian authorities that new rules restricting gambling advertising risk pushing punters towards unregulated operators.

The owner of Unibet has announced plans for a new responsible gambling campaign in Belgium just as plans to limit advertising were given Royal Decree, the final stage of legislative authorisation. iGamingBusiness.com understands the new rules will be implemented from June 2019.

The legislation, which was backed by Justice minister Koen Greens and the Belgium Gaming Commission (BGC), bans online casino providers from advertising, while online sportsbooks may only advertise after 8pm on television and cannot appear during live sports events. There is also a requirement for all gambling ads to show warnings about problem gambling.

Dennis Mariën, country manager at Kindred Belgium, told iGamingBusiness.com he is concerned that the changes could have a negative effect on what is widely considered a successfully regulated market, with around 80% of customers having been channelled towards licensed operators.

“Enforcing a set of rules that might be too strict for regulated operators to keep a competitive offering vs the non-regulated ones is a possible danger towards the customers as the non-regulated operators are in no way obliged to offer similar levels of security towards their customers,” Mariën said.

“Moreover, problem gamblers will most likely drop off the radar and therefore will not be able to seek help or assistance as by playing with a non-regulated operator.”

He describes it as “imperative” that the authorities keep a close eye on the consequences of the new decrees and particularly in terms of the channelling of customers towards the regulated offering.

Kindred and Unibet’s new responsible gambling campaign, which will be pushed across all channels, publicises tools designed to prevent problems. These include the ability to set maximum deposit and playing-time limits.

At a time that Belgium is clamping down on the industry’s ability to communicate with the public, Mariën said Kindred is keen to remind customers of the importance of responsible gambling, which is a central core of the company’s overall strategy.

He told iGamingBusiness.com: “This campaign is a very big initiative that aims to make customers and the general public aware of the tools we offer to support a sustainable gambling behaviour.

“Kindred firmly believes in the combination of awareness and empowerment of the customer base and therefore highlighting the responsible gaming tools we have available was the main aim of the running campaign.”

Unibet was awarded an online sports betting licence in 2012, a year after the sector was legalised.

Earlier this year Kindred Group joined forces with Itsme to enhance the digital identification functions on its online gambling platform in Belgium.