Closed Gaming Industry Demonstrates Outside Justice Minister's Office
At the initiative of l’Union Professionnelle des Agences de Paris (Upap), the sector is demonstrating in front of the office of the Minister of Justice, Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open Vld). The mobilization intends to denounce the closure of betting agencies, casino rooms and the ban on cafe games, decided on December 22, during the Consultation Committee.
"We are gathered here because Vincent Van Quickenborne is our minister. The main issue at stake in this gathering is the closure of our sector, which we find totally unjustified. It was not recommended by the experts. We believe that we should be treated like any other business. We ask for the immediate reopening of our establishments", declares Yannik Bellefroid, managing director of the Ladbrokes company in Belgium and president of Upap.
"The situation has been very perilous for companies in the sector for two years. Little help is given to us, because we are, in a way, one of the unloved sectors. Yet, betting agencies are fundamentally places of intercultural and intergenerational encounters," adds the president of Upap.
The betting sector in Belgium is closed, on the other hand, the National Lottery has retained all of its activities. "This is a profound injustice. Certainly, the National Lottery is clearly different from our activities, but there is room for everyone I think," laments Mr. Bellefroid.
The demonstration ended around noon. A delegation of the sector was received by the chief of staff of the Minister of Justice. At the end of the meeting, the representative of Upap believes that he was listened to, but not heard. He argues that no concrete answer was given to their request to reopen.
Images and interviews with Marie-Noëlle Dinant and Frederic De Henau.