Should a draft Royal Decree become law – and it is expected to do so – online gamblers in Belgium would only be able to deposit €200 per week per website. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Weekly limit from €500 to €200
If online gamblers in Belgium want to play for high stakes, they had better already have money in their accounts or enjoy some winning sessions, as their ability to deposit large sums may soon take a hit. Belgium’s Council of Ministers has given its blessing to a draft Royal Decree that would slash gambling deposit limits from €500 ($590.45) to €200 ($236.18) per week.
the €200 limit would be per gaming website
Despite the potential change, players could theoretically deposit more money per week under the new limit than they can now. This is because the €200 limit would be per gaming website, whereas the current €500 limit is overall, on all sites combined. Thus, if a person has accounts at three or more sites, they could end up depositing more than €500 per week.
Operators found violating the deposit limits could face punishment from the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) and will have to give funds in excess of the limit back to customers.
The decree is now in the hands of the Belgian Data Protection Authority for review. After that, the next stop is the Belgian Council of State. Should it get the thumbs up from both, the decree – and the €200 limit – will become law.
Current limit a product of pandemic
The current €500 gambling deposit limit was put in place just in April 2020 in an attempt to protect consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was intended to remain in place until pandemic lockdowns were lifted, but the limit remains.
In a Facebook post on April 6 of last year, the BGC emphasized that the €500 limit could not be increased, even if players could prove that they had the financial health to handle higher thresholds. Players could request a reduction in their deposit limit, however, which would have to be honored immediately.
Customers who decreased their limits could still raise them up again, up to the €500 max. Unlike a decrease, an increase would not take effect for three days in order to prevent rash spending.
BGC previously targeted loot boxes
Among countries that permit gambling – both live and online – Belgium has been one of the strictest, particularly in the last couple years, in its policies. It has put the clamps down to varying degrees on gambling advertising, deposit bonus advertising, deposit limits, and deposit methods. The BGC arguably drew the most attention, though, when it banned loot boxes in video games in April 2018.
A loot box is a reward mechanism in which a gamer receives an item or items for use in-game. In most instances, the contents of the loot box are unknown until it is opened, though the possible items that could be included are known. In most games with this feature, loot boxes can be earned through normal play, but most games also offer them for purchase with real money.
The least problematic loot boxes are ones that are earned solely through gameplay and contain only cosmetic items. The ones considered the worst are those that are purchased with real money and contain items that give players an advantage.
The BGC decided that loot boxes were a form of gambling and rather than just making them age-restricted, banned them altogether. Video game behemoth Electronic Arts (EA), whose FIFA 18 and Star Wars Battlefront II were targets of the BGC, fought back, arguing that loot boxes were not the same as gambling, and refused to remove loot boxes from its games.
In January 2019, however, EA conceded and removed the ability to pay for loot boxes, doling them out only through regular gameplay.