The wonders of internet gaming, specifically in the case of multi-platform operators, is that we can join an online provider and avail ourselves of a range of delights, conveniently switching from one to another. Feel like a change of scene during the break in a poker tournament? Simply click on ‘Casino’ in the Lobby and enjoy the thrills and spills of an all-singing and all-dancing slots game. Fancy a flutter on your favourite football team in their latest match? Head for the Sports Betting section… Your funds, being in a centralised, all-purpose account, can be used on whichever of the platforms you choose, whether that’s Poker, Blackjack or Bingo. It’s a great set-up that’s very user-friendly.
For those of you in Belgium, however, this easy, convenient situation might change if the rather odd proposals of legislators gain sufficient traction to come into law. Their idea, in contrast to the current practice, is to have customers open multiple accounts with the same operator. Thus, if the provider is making a range of online gaming products available, a separate account will be required for each of Poker, Casino, Slots, Sports Betting and so on. Not surprisingly, this latest shot across the bows of the industry in Belgium hasn’t gone down well with the country’s gambling trade association.
Also not surprisingly, there’s a political backdrop. A law originally introduced in 2019 that allowed the one fits all practice used today has been revisited after a sea-change in Belgium’s political administration, the new coalition government opting for a new approach.
A predictable impasse has arisen, Belgium’s Gambling Commission (BGC) on the one hand of the opinion that the original proposals might not, in fact, be to the benefit of players, and the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) on the other having concerns about the protection of players. They believe that the so-called cumulation ban poses a serious threat to consumer protection, suggesting that the present set-up of single player accounts should remain intact in order to ‘offer greater, better and substantiated player protection’. And many would agree that they have a point in that, with the latest proposals, players would have less of an overview of their overall expenses. Furthermore, they point out that operators would ‘lose a holistic view of players’ gambling behaviour’, in turn making it more difficult to identify (and provide advice about) gambling-related problems.
And there could be more – there are other possible changes to Belgium’s gambling legislation, such as the BGC’s recommendation to prevent newsagent shops providing licensed sports betting services. Fingers crossed that the situation is resolved…
Meanwhile, there’s been an interesting development in Denmark regarding bricks & mortar and online gambling. It turns out that consumer spending at land-based casinos and gaming machines in Denmark increased in the first quarter of 2022, and at the expense of sports wagering and the online casino sector. Predictably, COVID is a factor. Spillemyndigheden, Denmark’s gambling regulator: “The figures show that the gambling spend on betting and online casino has fallen compared to the same period last year… On the other hand, the gambling spend on gaming machines and land-based casino has increased compared to the same period last year, since the latter gambling sectors were affected by lockdowns in connection with COVID-19 in March 2021.”
It’s such shifts – which are not necessarily specific to this or that sector – that, for a while, will continue to confuse operators to the point that it’s difficult to put the facts and figures in perspective and, in turn, plan ahead. But what we can say is that the industry on the whole is looking healthy and, in the main, will continue to evolve to the benefit of players.