Bpost is Belgium's former postal monopoly

Bpost newsagents to become gambling dens?

The sale by Bpost, the semi-state-owned postal company, of its network of newsagents to gambling business Golden Palace is fuelling concerns the threshold to gamble will be lowered further.

Bpost is selling its Ubiway Retail network of stores that include 170 Press Shop newsagents, Hubiz, Uni and Relay outlets to Golden Palace.

Former gambling addict Dirk De Troy is not impressed by the sale by the company that is part owned by the Belgian sate.  He fears that if newsagents more and more clearly resemble gambling venues young people will become easy prey.

“The threshold to enter a newsagent’s to buy a newspaper or sweets is far lower. The other sweets in the store are the gambling machines”.

Dirk struggled with a gambling addiction for a decade.  He’s been in recovery for 6 years now.  He provides support for people struggling with the addition and gives talks on the subject in schools and the like.

“I’m disappointed in the government because they wanted to provide support for people with a gambling addiction.  A few good steps have been set towards prevention.  The law’s been changed.  Lower gambling limits have been introduced and there’s less advertising on radio and tv”.

Dirk says the sale to Golden Palace conflicts will all government attempts so far to address gambling additions. 

Petra De Sutter, the Flemish green minister in charge of state-owned companies, concedes the issue but stresses Bpost is an autonomous business that takes its own decisions.

“From an ethical viewpoint this leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.  The sale does not contribute towards the government aim of tackling gambling addiction”.

Golden Palace’s plans for the network have not yet been made public.

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