Monday June 16,2014 : BELGIAN REGULATOR WANTS TOUGHER RESTRICTIONS ON INTERNET GAMBLING
Law firm assesses Belgian Gaming Commission's letter to incoming lawmakers.
The respected law firm DLA Piper has published its assessment of a recent letter sent to incoming Belgian lawmakers by the Belgian Gaming Commission, requesting further restriction and rationalisation of the gaming industry.
The assessment was carried out by Patrick Van Eecke and Raf Schoefs of the law company's Brussels offices and gives an introductory overview of the BGC letter, in which the Commission pleads for a further restriction of the gambling industry, justifying its request by presenting new numbers showing that in the first months of 2014, 600,977 players found their way to online gambling sites…considerably higher than the number of players (211,166) visiting land-based gaming halls and casinos.
The Commission's annual report for 2013 reports the total turnover of all licensed operators in Belgium amounted to Euro 15 million for casinos, almost Euro 23 million for arcades and Euro 17 million for betting operators; the BGC is therefore of the opinion that the existing legal framework is insufficient, and that the gaming industry should be limited in its expansion because it cannot be considered “a normal economic activity“.
The Commission is critical of current government policy for the following reasons:
* The legal principle stating that persons involved in a collective debt procedure are prohibited from participating in games of chance for which one must register. While the BGC welcomes this legal provision, it feels that the principle is undermined by the absence of effective identity control of players. The BGC has proposed draft legalization for stronger control of online identities such as the national registration of players.
* The Commission is concerned about social gaming, and claims that social games carry the risk of directing players to real-money alternatives, and could therefore be harmful for minors. Again, draft legalization has been presented to the current government by the BGC, but it observes there appears to be little appetite for deeper regulation.
* Finally, the BGC is worried about government becoming more interested in tax revenues than the welfare of players. It says the current laws are designed to provide Belgians with a limited offer of games of chance and that expansion may be harmful. The Commission therefore suggests the further restriction and rationalisation of the industry, and proposes bigger budgets for itself, enabling the employment of more personnel in order to better enforce the Belgian regulations that include the prosecution of Belgian punters who use foreign online gambling sites not licensed by the Commission, and further actions against unlicensed operators accessing the Belgian market.