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Has Belgium Banned Fulltilt and Pokerstars
Posted 3/17/11 : Have Full Tilt and Pokerstars been given their marching orders?
The internet's two biggest poker operators, Full Tilt and Pokerstars, have always been meticulous in adhering to the often complex laws of different jurisdictions as advised by their legal eagles - for example the departure from Washington state recently by Pokerstars following a judicial ruling.
That obedience may see both giants at least partially exiting the Belgian market soon amid a growing number of media reports since March 10 alleging that the operators have been sent warnings to depart by the Belgian Gaming Commission.
It is claimed in unconfirmed reports that the letters went out to licensing jurisdictions Alderney and Gibraltar (and presumably to Malta and Guernsey), requesting cooperation in closing out any licensees operating illegally in Belgium and warning that such licensees could face punitive measures if the warning is ignored.
Some of the reportage claims that Pokerstars and Full Tilt are referred to specifically in the warning, which sets a deadline for response of April 1st.
Begium's foray into online gambling has not been without criticism as operators and trade bodies have protested that the new licensing dispensation implemented earlier this year is disciminatory against foreign operators and restricts licensing to existing Belgian land gambling licensees.
The regulations set the minimum gambling age limit at 21 year - higher then the norm in online poker sites, and insist on Belgian presence and domains.
The European Commission is yet to sign off on some of the regulations, although that does not appear to have slowed down the Belgians in pushing ahead with their plans. These include provisions for ISP and financial transaction blocking if required.
Belgium has adopted the increasingly common "walled garden" approach to internet gambling regulation in Europe, attempting to 'ring-fence' activities within its borders.
The chairman of the Belgian Gaming Commission, Etienne Marique, apparently flexes his regulatory and political muscles in the letter, threatening his fellow regulators in Alderney and Gibraltar with personal legal action if they do not cooperate in "preventing these crimes from taking place", although quite how he would go about this is not clear.
At the heart of the Belgian move is probably a commercial protectionist motive. Unless well established and popular international operators like Pokerstars and Full Tilt can be excluded from the domestic market, it is unlikely that players will be inclined to move to Belgian-licensed online poker rooms with lower global player liquidity.
That said, Pokerstars has signed a partnership agreement with the Belgian land-based (and licensed) Circus Groupe (see previous InfoPowa report) which presumably gives Pokerstars some local leverage.
The quid pro quo for being allowed to operate within the Circus Groupe partnership is that first deposit bonusing is not permitted, and that the online poker giant will allow only Belgian players vs. Belgian players in cash game action on its Begian-domained, dedicated website.
Neither Pokerstars nor Full Tilt had commented on the reports as we went to press.
Danske Spil Bingo Moves to Microgaming -
The national lottery of Denmark, Danske Spil, is live on the Microgaming Bingo Network. Danske Spil, the Danish national lottery, is live on the Microgaming Bingo Network following a change to its licence conditions.
Quickfire live on Strendus -
Quickfire powered by Microgaming is extending its reach in the LatAm region with the signing of Strendus. Strendus is the online division of Logrand Entertainment Group. The group comprises several companies that operate gaming and entertainment establishments in Mexico, running 14 land-based casinos in total.
Quickfire content live on BetatHome -
Online gaming and sports betting company bet-at-home was founded in 1999. Today the company has 4.8 million registered customers around the world, offering sports betting, casino, live casino, Vegas games, poker and virtual sports.
Microgaming has donated £30,000 between four charities -
Gift of Giving provides Microgamingís customers the opportunity to vote for one of several charities in their region. In lieu of Christmas gifts, £30,000 is split equally between four global regions: Isle of Man, UK and Europe, Africa, and Rest of the World.
Entertainment Betting Odds: 90th Academy Awards -
The Shape of Water leads Sundayís 90th Academy Awards (8 PM ET, ABC) with 13 Oscar nominations, but when it comes to Best Picture, this highly-acclaimed film is a +140 second-favorite behind Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri at Ė115.
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