HomeGambling IndustryBelgian self-exclusion program helps, but more needs to be done

Belgian self-exclusion program helps, but more needs to be done

4 min. read
A tape measure dropping from the sky.

A new report by the Belgian Gaming Commission (Kansspelcommissie) has focused on the effectiveness of the EPIS System, a self-exclusion scheme that was designed to help players steer clear from gambling websites when their behavior became too much of a liability for their mental health and finances.

To better understand the effectiveness of the program, the Kansspelcommissie conducted research to see how self-excluded players fared under the program. The survey focused on 272 gamblers who had used EPIS to restrict their gambling. The results were commented by Magali Clavie, Chairman at the commission, who said that 90% of the people who self-excluded were happy with the program and confirmed that it had truly helped them.

Another 96% of respondents said that they had in fact found the registration process to be simple enough and easy. One shortcoming of the program though is that it is usually sought out after the fact, i.e., at a time when a person has already developed a problem with gambling, Clavie confirmed.

EPIS is usually used in cases when gamblers are already experiencing serious harm resulting from excessive gambling and are constantly struggling to control their habits when it came to games of chance.

Another shortcoming of the program, as per the chairman, is that EPIS needs to cover a broader variety of games of chance and further consider factoring illegal gambling websites and operations which showed little discretion for consumers’ well-being.

A worrying trend emerged from the study, with the Kansspelcommissie discovering that one in four self-excluded gamblers was actually able to continue gambling despite the ban. Many did so using illegal operations, around 33.8% of the respondents in fact. However, 31.1% of the people who continued to gamble turned to the National Lottery, and its retail products.

Some 24.3% used the lottery’s online products, and 25.7% of the people who were registered with EPIS but continued to gamble said that they did so through machines located at cafés. Clavie acknowledged that the commission has been aware of self-excluded gamblers’ urge to continue gambling at places where the restrictions do not apply.

Far more worrying was the fact that more than one in two of these gamblers were still targeted by gambling companies with direct promotions sent via email or social media ads. At least 70.2% of gamblers who had been excluded were targeted by direct mail.

To this end, the commission has urged for more determined action insofar as restrictions on advertising apply. The commission further noted that vulnerable groups should be the ones covered first. Another matter was the frequency of EPIS use. Overall, relevant to the general population in the country and the number of problem gamblers in Belgium, the tool remained under-used.

One way to ensure that this is better addressed is to promote the tool through legitimate gambling operators and in prominent positions on said operators’ websites. Belgium has been making strong steps towards introducing safeguards to protect consumers.

Among them was the €200 weekly loss limit launched in October. The country is also one of the first in the world to move against loot boxes, branding them as an official form of gambling and therefore not suitable for children and underage individuals.

Image credit: Unsplash.com

21 Dec 2022
4 min. read
Nobody has commented on this article yet. Be the first one to leave a comment.
Stay up to date
Would you like to be notified about latest gambling news and updates?