Minister of Public Enterprises Petra De Sutter was only informed on Wednesday of the sale of bpost newsagents to the gambling company Golden Palace. She said that in the Chamber on Thursday afternoon.
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Bpost, which is half-owned by the government, suddenly announced on Wednesday that its subsidiary Ubi Way is selling 170 newsagents in its portfolio to the gambling giant Golden Palace. The newsagents no longer fit into the core activities of the company, it sounded.
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There was immediate criticism, including from the Flemish expertise center for alcohol and other drugs (VAD), which fears that the red carpet will be rolled out for the gaming sector. Guardianship minister Petra De Sutter (Green) also choked on her coffee, it turned out on Thursday during question time in the House. “I was notified yesterday, as were all of you. The autonomy of bpost allows the company to make these kinds of decisions.”
Fight against gambling addiction
The federal government made the fight against gambling addiction a spearhead in the coalition agreement, and the sale of the newsagents to the gambling sector does not fit in with that strategy, emphasized De Sutter. The Groen deputy prime minister cannot undo the sale, she said, but is planning a meeting with the management of the postal company. In addition, the minister also promised regulation. “If the sale goes through, it won’t lead to what the buyer may have intended or hoped for. That’s the guarantee I want to make.”
Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) is finalizing a Royal Decree that defines more clearly what a newsagent is, and in that respect imposes a mandatory minimum sale of daily, weekly and monthly newspapers and further restricts the number of playground equipment . “We will not allow newsagents to be turned into gambling palaces.”