Published on 15 October 2014 by Rhi
When it comes to gaming, Belgium is one of the most strictly regulated markets in Europe. In 2010, Belgium made the decision to require gaming operators to have a land based operation in the country in order to obtain a license and therefore be eligible to offer it’s services to Belgian citizens.
Any online casino accepting Belgian players, without owning a land based casino, or signing a partnership with an existing one, and being approved a license by the Belgian Gambling Commission can be fined up to €100,000.
License Types in Belgium
Until recently, Belgium only issued 9 land based casino licenses, however the new coalition government has announced it will be adding another two licensing permits. In January 2011 the Belgian Gambling Act came into effect and all online games of chance (i.e casino games) became regulated by the Gaming Commission. There are 3 different types of online licenses.
- A+: Operating a casino business.
- B: Operating gambling arcades.
- F1: Operating wagering and betting services.
The act allows land based casinos to apply for an online license should they wish, or to partner up with an existing online casino to allow them to offer their site in Belgium. The law requires online casinos in Belgium to have their servers located in the country and offer the same online games as the land based counterpart.
All licensees must pay the Gaming Commission a €250,000 guarantee fee and 11% tax on all gross gaming revenues.
Belgian Gaming Commission
The Belgian Gaming Commission has final say over all licenses. They can even even impose fines upon companies and players who breach the Gambling Act, by either offering their services to Belgian players without the relevant license, or by playing on an unlicensed online casino.
Operators can be fined anything from €100 to €100,000 and players can be fined up to €25,000. This may seem steep but it’s considered the player’s duty to know the law, and their responsibility to double check which casinos are blacklisted and ensure they don’t play there.
The Belgian Gaming Commission is in effect, not to make operators lives hard, or to prevent player enjoyment, but to keep gaming under a close watch and help to protect their citizens from addition, fraud and other issues that can arise from gaming. It’s also a good way to bring taxes and revenues back into the country, but with such a strict and tiny shortlist of licensees, it’s clear this isn’t the main concern at all.
Blacklisting in Belgium
There are a few countries in Europe where it’s actually illegal to offer an online casino, but the market isn’t regulated closely and casinos manage to operate quite successfully. This is not the case in Belgium, however, as they are frequently blacklisting unlicensed operators, in a publicly viewable list. As of 2013 there were over 70 different online gaming sites on the list and this is updated regularly.
Unibet and Kroon Casino both currently have a Belgian website and are licensed by the Belgian Gaming Commission.