Belgian Underage Gambling Prevalent, But Not Online

4th December 2009 9:16 am GMT

The Belgian Government Centre for Research & Information (CRIOC) has published a report this week into underage gambling in Belgium, showing that more than 22% of 10-17 year olds have participated in some form of gambling for money with 40% regularly playing real-money poker.

According to the findings of the research, carried out amongst 2,600 males and females aged ten to seventeen, one in five Belgian minors claim to have participated in gambling for money with an average participation rate of 1.3 times per week and an average monthly spend of €38 per person.

The research found that Belgian minors on average begin to gamble for real money at the age of thirteen with lottery scratchcards being the most popular form of gambling with 60% participation amongst respondents, followed by the lottery with 40% participation and the same number for those who play card games for cash. Betting on billiards, bowling and bingo games in land venues was also popular amongst 20% of respondents.

Unsurprisingly, less than 1 in 4 respondents said that they participated in online gaming, of which none played for real money, highlighting the difficulties experienced by minors in creating real-money accounts with online gaming operators.

Although poker ranked 3rd amongst respondents in terms of participation, it represents the most popular form of gambling amongst Belgian minors who play amongst friends for cash on average five times per week. Other cash card games ranked second in frequency followed by free online gaming in third place.

Underage gamblers were also found to buy lottery scratchcards at least once a week and to play the lottery and bingo once a week.

The report concludes that too many minors participate in real-money gambling in spite of the fact that this is prohibited and recommends that the Belgian National Lottery should sanction vendors who sell gaming products to minors in spite of the prohibition.

It also suggests that more attention be paid to the issue of free online gaming, which the report suggest could seduce certain consumers to spend a large amount of money, and recommends pre-registration for online gaming as a means of prohibiting access to minors.

A copy of the report entitled 'Jeunes at jeux de hasard' is available for download here (FR).

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