Due to restrictions on land-based venues imposed by the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, gross gaming income in Belgium declined 17.8 percent year-over-year during the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The Belgian Gaming Commission (Kansspelcommissie) reported that income from the country's regulated market was €969.1m (£825.7m/$1.04bn), a decrease from €1.18bn in 2019-20 and €1.1bn in 2018-19.
A total of €595.6 million was attributable to internet gambling, a 27.9 percent rise from the previous year, while land-based earnings from retail gaming decreased 47.7 percent to €373.2 million.
This represented the first time that internet produced more money than offline, with online gambling contributing 61.5 percent and retail contributing 38.5 percent.
Further dissecting the annual performance, online casino revenue reached €277.9 million, representing 46.6% of total online income for the year. Online slot arcades earned €156.8 million in income, an increase of 26.3% year-over-year, while sports betting revenue increased by 27.1% to €161.2 million.
During the height of the epidemic, the Belgian government implemented restrictions on land-based gambling facilities, such as casinos, arcades, and betting shops, in an effort to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
This market's biggest source of income was land-based sports betting, which generated €123.6m in revenue, or 33.1% of all retail revenue. Café revenue was €113.7m, representing 30.5% of the market, while arcade revenue was €81.1m (21.7%), and casino revenue was €54.9m (54.9%). (14.7 percent ).
576,493 customers will gamble online at least once per week in 2020, up from 502,723 in 2019-20, according to Kansspelcommissie's analysis of the report's other significant data. Additionally, the average number of unique players on licenced sites climbed from 113,302 in the prior year to 136,888 in the current year.
Throughout the course of the year, a total of 162,985 new online gamblers signed up.
In contrast, retail visitors decreased from 11,167 to 10,684, a considerable decrease from 15,710 in 2019-20 before to the epidemic.
In addition, 122 websites were added to Belgium's blacklist of unlawful operators, while 60 websites agreed to ban access for Belgian gamers.
“The year 2021 was marked by the ongoing health crisis and successive closures that again hit physical gaming establishments hard, having already seen their gross margin fall by 47% in 2020,” Kansspelcommissie chair Magali Clavie said.
“Online gambling did grow. In 2021, there were an average of 136,888 players online per day, twice as many as three years ago. This form of gambling now far surpasses physical gambling for the first time and deserves special attention because it is more accessible, both in space and time, and can pose a risk factor for gamblers.
“Therefore, it is more necessary than ever to protect the online players and gamblers by providing them with a safe and controlled gaming environment.
“Such an objective requires that every effort is made to prevent them from being tempted, consciously or not, to turn to an increasingly large and aggressive illegal offer that offers them no protection and undermines the channelling policy.”
By fLEXI tEAM