Online Gaming in Belgium

Online gaming in Belgium has been legal since 2002, but the 2009 Gambling Act required any company operating an online gaming site in Belgium to also hold a license for a land-based casino. The operator's online gaming servers must be located in Belgium, and the online games must be the same games offered at the land-based casino. This means an online operator must either partner with an established brick-and-mortar Belgian casino or own one themselves.

In January 2010, Belgium began the process of creating a domestic regulated online gaming market. Belgium decided to require operators to be based in Belgium and subject to Belgium's laws and taxes. The new regulations excluded outside operators from promoting and providing poker and casino games to Belgian citizens.

In January 2011, the new Gambling Act was enacted. Online games of chance were placed under the supervision of the Gaming Commission. The online licenses (A+, B+ and F1+) allow licensees of the following class licenses to operate games of chance online: Class A (operating casino operations); Class B (operating gaming arcades); and Class F1 (organizing wagers). All operators are required to pay a EUR 250,000 guarantee fee. All prior taxes and debts of license applicants must be paid before submitting an application. Operators are required to pay an 11% tax on all gross gaming revenues. The horse racing tax is 3%, and pari-mutuel bets on foreign horse races are taxed at 3.7%.

The Act also increased the powers of the Gaming Commission, which can now impose fines in case of breach of the Gambling Act. The Act provides criminal penalties or administrative sanctions for any person involved in illegal games of chance. This not only applies to the operator who facilitates the illegal games of chance, but also to participants.

In January 2012, the Belgian government blocked access to unlicensed online gaming sites. Belgian banks are required to block all financial transactions (coming into or going out of the country) from blacklisted sites, and ISPs are required to block access to unlicensed gambling sites.

In February 2012, the Belgium Gaming Commission approved three online gaming licenses, allowing Belgian players to legally gamble at, and PokerStars partnered with Casino de Namur; both Partouche and own their own land-based casinos in Belgium. More operators have entered the market since then.

There are more than 70 online gaming sites on Belgium's blacklist. Belgian players gambling at blacklisted sites are considered to be committing a crime and can be fined up to EUR 25,000. It is the player's responsibility to review the blacklist for banned gaming sites and not be a registered active player at any of those sites.

In November 2018, Peter Naessens was named director of a new project to standardize online gambling regulations across the continent. The team will be part of the European Committee for Standardization. Numerous industry bodies and regulators are coming together to create rules for compliance and reporting that will become standard in the industry.

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