The Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO), representing six of Belgium's largest gaming groups, has established a self-imposed Duty of Care mandate. This initiative is a collective response to address and prevent problem gambling effectively.
Signatory Operators and Collective Action
The charter, signed by the Ardent Group, Betfirst, Golden Palace, Kindred, Napoléon Sports & Casinos, and Star casino groups, represents a significant portion of Belgium's gambling industry. Together, these groups account for 70% of the sector. BAGO has now invited other private operators to join the agreement.
Responding to Political Demonization
BAGO's move to establish a Duty of Care follows perceived demonization from Belgium's political sector. According to Emmanuel Mewissen, Ardent Group's CEO and BAGO's vice-president, the industry has been misrepresented in public discourse, with exaggerated claims and mistrust affecting the industry's reputation.
The Four Pillars of Duty of Care
The Duty of Care agreement focuses on four critical areas:
- Uniform Detection System: Implementing algorithm-based systems to identify harmful gambling behaviors.
- Player Communication: Educate players about the risks of harmful gambling and promote responsible gambling tools like deposit limits and self-exclusion.
- Staff Education and Training: Enhancing staff training to identify and address problem gambling better.
- Support and Advice for Players: Offering solutions and guidance, including advising players to register on the EPIS self-exclusion platform.
Creating a Responsible Gambling Environment
Tom de Clercq, chairman of BAGO, emphasized the industry's commitment to fostering a responsible and safe gambling environment. Advanced technologies like algorithms and AI will play a key role in the early detection of problematic behaviors.
Addressing the Threat of the Black Market
Mewissen also highlighted that only the regulated sector would adhere to player protection rules, raising concerns that the recent nationwide gambling advertising ban, effective from 1 July 2023, could inadvertently benefit the illegal gambling market. BAGO has criticized the government for imposing this ban against the advice of the country's regulator.
Belgium's Gaming Sector Embraces Duty of Care
BAGO's Duty of Care agreement marks a significant step in the Belgian gambling industry's efforts to promote responsible gambling and player protection. By implementing these measures, the signatory operators aim to address problem gambling proactively, counteract political criticism, and mitigate the impact of regulatory changes on the legal gambling market.