Belgium Law Restricts Online Gambling Services

Published Friday, September 10, 2010 -

A revamped new law, scheduled to come into effect at the beginning of 2011, restricts online gambling services to certain licensed operators in Belgium.
The government says it's justification for the rule is to protect public interests.

According to an article presented by the InterGaming web site, Koen Platteau a lawyer from law firm Olswang, commented, "The Belgian approach towards online gambling is certainly not unique within the E.U.," Platteau continued, "It is important to stress that there will be no monopoly on online gambling in Belgium. However, only a limited number of operators will be entitled to offer the service."

The lawyer pointed out, "They claim that the offline requirement creates barriers to the E.U. internal market." "In particular, they invoke the principles of free movement of services and freedom of establishment. Interestingly, the European Commission voiced similar concerns when it reviewed a draft of the Gambling Act containing the offline requirement. However, the Belgian Parliament adopted the offline requirement regardless of the Commission’s comments."

Belgium's new Gambling Act will certainly come under scrutiny by the European community and the courts. A complaint has been filed with the European Commission by various opponents to Belgium's proposed legislation.
Legal precedents have been set by the ECJ regarding the online gambling issue in Europe. One strong example being the ruling on the Portuguese monopoly after the ECJ considered that monopoly justified because of the absence of harmonisation at the EU level and the risks of fraud and crime.
The ECJ has confirmed that under current law in the European Union, member states do not have to recognise gambling licences issued by national authorities.
The government of Belgium's position looks locked up and will evoke debate and argument and as yet the European Commission has not revealed their intentions.
Online gambling operators are waiting patiently to enter the market in the entire European Union once there is a consistent law that is fair and equal to all players in the field.





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