Carrot and Stick for Belgium Online Poker

02/10/2012
By Tommie ClarkGoogle

The Belgium Gaming Commission has, on the one hand, authorized real-money wagering for three online poker sites, but on the other hand, has announced that it plans to block access to any unlicensed online casinos.  This action on part of the Belgium Gaming Commission is the implementation of the Gambling Act passed last January.  The 2011 Gambling Act prohibits online casinos with the exception of specific casinos that receive special licensing.  In order to receive licensing, the operator must be a Belgium-based firm with a license to operate “brick & mortar” casinos in Belgium.  If a foreign operator wishes to operate an online casino in Belgium, they have to open a land-based casino there first. 

 

Part of implementation of the Gambling Act was the creation of two lists: the white list, casinos with licensing, and the black list, casinos without licensing.  The three online poker sites to be put on the white list are Casino777.be, Partouche.be, and PokerStars.be.  PokerStars, a top online casino, announced that Beligian players should not expect any significant changes regarding use of the site, though due to increased operation costs their may be less online casino bonuses.  The black-listed sites are going to be blocked at the source – internet service providers are required to block access to black-listed websites.

 

Two unlicensed European operators, iPoker and PartyPoker.com, claim that anybody in Europe will be able to use their site regardless of Belgium’s new regulations.  They claim that the regulation can not be effectively enforced. 

 

Belgium joins Denmark and Spain as the European leaders on gambling regulation, however, the European Commission, the EU body charged with creating unilateral regulation for online gambling, has been critical of the countries’ individualized regulations that hamper fair competition and violate EU fair-trade principles. 

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