Belgium is set to introduce new regulations that require gambling machines in newsagents to incorporate electronic identification (eID) verification. The move aims to enhance protection for

minors and individuals struggling with gambling issues.

Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne of the Open VLD party presented a preliminary draft law that received approval from the Belgian government on Friday. This draft law imposes additional restrictions on gaming machines within newsagents. Specifically, it mandates the inclusion of identity verification measures to automatically exclude minors and individuals listed on the Gaming Commission's Excluded Persons Information System (EPIS).

The EPIS is a blacklist of individuals prohibited from participating in gambling activities due to reasons such as addiction or collective debts. Currently, there are over 180,000 people on this list, including nearly 48,000 gamblers who have voluntarily added their names.

A study conducted by the Gambling Commission highlighted the need to pay more attention to young people in relation to gambling. The study found that over half of the surveyed youths had engaged in gambling within the past three years, with boys accounting for 65 percent of this group. Alarmingly, more than one-tenth of these youths gamble on a daily basis, potentially indicating signs of addiction.

The preliminary draft also bolsters efforts to combat illegal gambling websites by publishing their URLs in the Belgian Official Gazette. While the Gaming Commission already requires internet service providers to block such sites in Belgium, legalizing this process will enable more decisive actions, according to Minister Van Quickenborne. The proposed legislation will now undergo review by the Council of State and the Data Protection Authority.

The Belgian government has previously implemented measures to prevent newsagents from becoming hubs for gambling. These measures include requiring newsagents to offer a minimum of 200 different newspapers and magazines and maintain an annual turnover of at least €25,000. Additionally, customers interested in gambling are subject to a daily betting limit of €200. Photo by World Economic Forum (Natalie Behring), Wikimedia commons.