Controversial Belgian online betting regulation
Despite the fact that liberalization in France gained enough publicity, the controlled opening in Belgium is also near. Nevertheless, the proposed regulation in Belgium seems to contain some sticking points.
Gambling in retail outlets has been permitted since the nineties and renowned operators like Stanleybet, Ladbrokes and the French monopolist Pari Mutuel Urbain, are all major players in the Belgian market.
Online betting and gaming
The Belgian Gaming Act of 1999 excluded online betting and gaming in the array of lawful products, and in the past two years, the government has been working on new plans to legalize online gambling activities. At the first French conference to talk about regulation, in October 2007, Etienne Marique, the Belgian gaming commission president, was rather combative. Marique stated that Belgium would use a comparable timetable like the French, which implicated that the Belgian online gambling market would be legalized at the end of last year or at the start of this year. Marique also has shown interest in a closed Virtual Private Network, comparable with the Italian network, which was implemented by the Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS) and Sogei authorities, to monitor operators more strictly.
Nevertheless, in March 2009, Belgium revealed a more disreputable path that would surely conflict with the EU vision. Carl Devlies, Secretary of State and responsible for the restructuring of the gambling legislation, declared that he was planning to legalize only existing betting and casino operators. European countries that want to alter their legislation need to approve this by the European Commission, which has set a status quo until June 29. The less disputed facets of the proposals are a 21-or-over age-limit restriction, the obligation that servers should be Belgium-based and site blocking (comparable with the Italian approach).
Internet casino games
Nevertheless, the proposal to regulate internet casino games is closely followed by operators. If the proposals are accepted, this would mean that Belgium would be the initial nation, of those enacting new regulative laws, to legalize games of chance online. Italy and France decided on legalizing only card and betting games.
New gambling legislation
The new proposals correspond with last year’s recommendations by the Senate and still need to be authorized by the Belgian supreme administrative court; the Council of State. While other European nations choose to alter their legislation, and tens of thousands Belgian citizens gamble on foreign websites, it won’t take long before a new regulatory vision will take over in Belgium.