Published on 13 May 2015 by Rhi
The icon may say ‘hot news’ but really today we bring you some very bad news. Belgian authorities have begun tackling unlicensed casino operations accepting Belgian players by fining the players themselves. Most often, it’s the casinos that get hit with the fines and criminal action, as they are the ones who knowingly break the law; often players don’t understand the need for a local license or how to check if a casino has one. But in the eyes of the law ignorance is not an excuse and Belgium isn’t the first European country to punish players for playing on unlicensed casinos.
What is a “Regulated Market”
The EU has it’s own regulation for online casinos who operate and accept EU based players. All casinos must have a license of some kind and in order to be granted the license must adhere to strict regulations in order to keep players safe. However, countries within the EU are able to set their own regulations on top of the EU standards in order to get complete control over casinos offering services to their residents. Belgium is one such market. This means that in order for a casino to legally accept Belgium players, they must have a Belgian license. It doesn’t matter how many other licensed they have from other EU countries, they must have one issued by Belgium to accept their players.
Unfortunately it’s not unusual for casinos to ignore a regulated countries wishes to get their localised license and accept players any way. They might refrain from actively marketing those players, or not display the local language on their site, but they will accept their registration and their money.
It’s fairly usual for regulated countries to issue fines and criminal charges to casinos who breach their laws, but it’s becoming more and more common for them to actually transfer those fines and criminal charges to the players who are using the casino.
Is That Fair?
This is a hard one. It’s perfectly within the countries right to fine the players for playing on unlicensed casinos. Ignorance is rarely an excuse when it comes to breaking the law and it’s up to the player to ensure that any online casino they register with and play on has the relevant license for that country, if, like Belgium, that countries gaming market is regulated.
However, usually the licensing bodies go after the casinos. They have much more money behind them, and have technology in place to easily block players from countries where they do not hold a license. But fines for casinos are not always the biggest deterrent; as they have money, often they will pay the fine then just go on accepting players without applying for the necessary license.
How Much Could I be Fined?
I’m not sure of the scale of the fines, however it has been announced that 79 players have been fined €200 each by the Beglium Gaming Commission for registering and playing on a casino without a Belgian license. €200 may not seem like much, but to many people this can come as a big blow; we all have other bills to pay and commitments.
Kansspelcommissie (the Beglian Gaming Commission) is now working on plans to issue even larger fines to other players who spent larger amounts at unlicensed online casinos, with sources saying the fees could be as high as €16,000 for just one player.
How Can I Stay Safe?
The only way to stay safe is to check whether your country is a regulated market (some examples are Spain, Belgium, UK, France) and to only play on online websites who hold the necessary license. Belgian players can check our Belgium License page to see which casinos hold the license that allows them to accept Belgian players, ensuring they are safe from fines!