Gamblers treated as criminals
In the battle that rages between the Lottery and the private players of the games and bets, Ladbrokes is not left behind. Ladbrokes is not only a betting agency but also a casino and online betting company. A company founded in England in 1886, which makes it one of the oldest players on the market.
The company has chosen the legal route instead. It is preparing to file a petition for annulment against the Belgian state at the European level. This request concerns members of the Gaming Commission. This is because two of the members of the Commission are appointed by the Minister in charge of the Lottery, currently the Minister of Finance. "The appeal will be filed unless we can calm things down between the sector and the National Lottery," explains Yannik Bellefroid, CEO of Ladbrokes Belgium. "The Lottery does not realize that when you shoot at others, you also shoot at yourself."
But why this recourse to Europe? "As you can see, the Lottery is no longer the colonial Lottery, with only two small Lotto draws per week. These are also products that can be dangerous for players. The Lottery has much less experience in protecting players than we do," says Bellefroid. "With slogans such as "scandalously rich" (EuroMillions) or "need cash, play cash" (for a scratch card game), people are pushed to play. The number of lottery addicts is increasing. With scratch games, the National Lottery reaches many more people than the private sector. The question for Europe is therefore: is it normal that the Lottery, which has representatives on the Gaming Commission, has these representatives when it is also a stakeholder? This is a major conflict of interest."
But that's not all. For years, the government has been trying to impose the use of the Epis list on betting agencies, as is the case for online gambling, and for casinos and gambling halls (but not for booksellers). "I'm not against Epis," says Yannik Bellefroid. "I am against using Epis for other purposes. I don't agree that a player who comes to play once for 5 euros in an agency finds himself on file for 10 years. Like a criminal!"
Explanation: "They want to force us to keep a database of players (with their photo) that will allow the Gambling Commission to see, for 10 years, if someone has played. But this is totally disproportionate. And then there is always a risk of leakage of this data. We must also ask ourselves how effective such a measure would be. We have been doing self-exclusion measures in our agencies for 20 years. The private sector is much further ahead in addiction prevention. Whereas the Lottery has no risk prevention management."
Ladbrokes is therefore appealing to the Council of State, the Constitutional Court and the Data Protection Authority. Against a law that it calls "catch-all" and which should come into force in early October. The betting company finally asks this question: "Is it normal that a customer who frequents a betting agency is registered as a delinquent for 10 years while a customer who frequents a National Lottery agency escapes any form of identification?"