The Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC), or Kansspelcommissie, began regulating the online market in 2011 when it amended its gambling laws to include internet gaming. Online gambling is permitted; however the licensing process leaves some operators wondering if the market is worth it. On the other hand, players are highly protected under the current regulations.
The BGC’s method in granting licenses in similar to what the United States started out with in that it grants internet gaming licenses to those with existing land based gaming licenses or those companies in partnership with land based operators. Applications for “online only” companies continue to be denied.
Online gaming operators are only authorized to provide gaming services to Belgian punters with a license from the BGC. There are hefty fines in place not only for the operator but also the player who places illegal wagers. Players face fines up to 25,000 Euros while the operator can be assessed a fee of up to 100,000 Euros for accepting the bet.
Online casinos are granted A+ licenses to enter Belgium’s online market at an initial fee of 250,000 Euros. There are currently just a handful of websites that have proper licensing and they must have a .be domain. Among those sites with A+ licensing are Casino777, PokerStars, Unibet, Napoleon Games, bwin, Ladbrokes and Atomik. Gaming arcades are granted a different class of licensing referred to as B+ and the third class is F1+ for online betting. This may all seem a bit confusing especially when you see some of the same websites listed in different licensing categories. The types of online licenses are granted based on the gaming services the land based partner offers in the land based environment. In essence, land based and online partners should be in the same business whether it be casino games, sports betting etc.
Population Plays a Part
Belgium’s population plays a part in its online gambling business. As you can see, it’s not the easiest feat to obtain land based partnership and apply for an online gaming license. With Belgium being a smaller country, not many are keen to undergo the lengthy process to operate legally within the market. The opinion of some is that it simply isn’t worth the rigmarole when there are larger regions worth targeting and don’t have such stringent requirements.
Any operator providing gambling services from a website that does not have a .be domain may be placed on the blacklist. There are have been a series of sites placed on this list over the years and the BGC even wanted to add social gaming apps to its list claiming that it attracts a younger market. The blacklist is available on the BGC website.
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