Belgium has one of the biggest economies in all of Europe which has eventually developed to a modern economy through the years. It’s also a major hub for international trading. Brussels can also be considered as the European Union’s virtual capital. It’s also one of the few EU countries that gives gambling licenses to online casinos. All of these things make Belgium a great market for the online casino gaming industry- which is why the country can now be considered a European offshore gaming hub.
Although Belgium has an unbelievably long history of gambling, it wasn’t until 2011 when Belgium’s gaming industry started getting liberalized and more open to entertain online casino operators. When the new Belgian Gaming Act was passed, it was monitored and regulated by the Belgian Gaming Commission. Online gaming regulations were created for a better and safer gaming environment for the casino players. All online casinos that are offering online gaming services to Belgians need to be licensed and approved by the Belgian Gaming Commission first. This is not surprising at all since Belgium is known to be quite a strict market when it comes to online casino gaming services.
The History of the Belgian Gaming Commission
It was in 1999 when the Belgian Gaming Commission was formed. It’s the major gambling authority in Belgium and has the sole responsibility of granting gambling licenses in Belgium. Aside from its main role, the Belgian Gaming Commission is also responsible for: ensuring the protection of players, the regulation of license-holders and imposing penalties on them, the regulation of establishments offering casino services, and working closely with the Parliament and the Government when it comes to matters related to the state of gambling in the country.
The Seven Categories of the Belgium Gambling License
Gambling licenses released by the Belgian Gaming Commission fall under seven major categories with four of them having several sub-categories. These are the major categories and their respective sub-categories: A (A & A+), B (B & B+), C, D, E, F (F1, F2, F1+), G (G1 & G2). The A license category is only applicable to land-based casinos in Belgium. The A+ license is for online versions of casinos that currently hold an A license. The B license category is primarily for gaming arcade operators in Belgium while the B+ license is for online gaming arcades which are operated by B license holders. To keep it simple, the A & B license categories are for land-based operations while the A+ and B+ licenses are for their online versions. The C license category is only applicable to bars and other establishments that use bingo machines with ID card readers to make sure that no minors will be able to play at those casino machines. The D license category, on the other hand, is applicable to people who work at gaming establishments. The gaming commission created online courses which can be studied using an e-learning system. If the employee completes the course, he’ll be given the D license which is valid for 5 years. The E license category is mainly for installers, manufacturers, and repair stores of gambling machines. They are prohibited to operate without the E license. The F license category has 3 sub-categories which are the F1, F2, and F1+. The F1 license is for gambling operators which are handling sports betting and horse race betting. The F2 license, on the other hand, is given to organizations, companies, and store which accept bets for sports and horse races. The F1+ is for the online gambling operations on sports betting and horse race betting. The G1 and G2 license categories are for companies and organizations that offer and advertise gambling through the television and phone.
The Belgium License’s Regulations
It’s stated in the new gambling act that online players have to be at least 21 years old to be allowed access to online casino websites. All online casinos have a registration form which requires the player’s ID number. Violators of this law will face serious criminal charges and will be ordered to pay hefty penalties. Penalties can be as expensive as 25,00 euros. Breaking this law results to criminal charges not just to the casino player but to the online casino operator as well. Belgian citizens who are working for the government are prohibited from playing online casino games. Aside from a guarantee fee of 250,000 euros for license A holders, they’re also required to pay an annual fee.
How the Belgian Gaming Commission Handles Dispute Resolution
Since the Belgian Gaming Commission is dedicated to protect Belgian casino players, it always mediates between the online casino and the player. If an online casino violates any of the commission’s regulations when it comes to the protection of players, then it will be fined a hefty fee and its license might even be revoked.
How to Apply for a Belgium License
On the Belgian Gaming Commission’s official website, application forms are available and can be downloaded and then printed out. Applicants should provide the required personal details, as well as the proposed gambling website’s legal and financial details. Applicants will also be asked to disclose their future plans and proposed structure for the online casino. Applicants have the option to either send their application form via mail or through submitting online via the Belgian Gaming Commission’s official website. If the application form is sent through mail, it will take up to six months for the application to be processed by the commission.
Illegal Gambling Operations in Belgium
Belgium takes instances of illegal gambling seriously. If an online casino was caught operating without a valid gambling license from Belgium, it can be fined from as low as 100 euros to as high as 100,000 euros. Belgian players who will play at online casinos without a valid license will also be held accountable since they should be fully aware of the country’s gambling laws. They’ll be asked to pay a fine of 25,000 Euros if they’re caught playing at a casino which operates without a valid license.
The Belgium License’s Popularity
The Belgium license is quite popular around Europe since it holds one of the highest standards in online casino gaming. Belgium is also one of the few EU countries which gives out a gambling license to online casinos which even adds to its license’s popularity. It’s well-known for its strict regulations and elaborate conditions for casinos which are all for the benefit of online casino players.
The Reliability of the Belgium License
Because of Belgium’s strict gambling laws, it’s terribly hard to obtain a gambling license from the Belgian Gaming Commission. So if an online casino currently holds a Belgium gambling license, players can be 100% sure of its reliability. The Belgian Gaming Commission is dedicated to provide an enjoyable but safe gaming environment for Belgian casino players. If an online casino was able to meet the commission’s standards, then it’s guaranteed to be an ideal online casino for a casino player. Players shouldn’t worry about losing a lot of money when playing casino games since there are loss limits for every 24 hours.
The Belgian Gaming Commission’s Dedication to Promote Responsible Gaming
The Belgian Gaming Commission is very much committed to promote responsible gaming among the Belgian casino players. The gaming commission informs Belgian casino players about illegal gambling activities for their awareness. They often publish a complete list of blacklisted and unlicensed online casinos which were unable to meet the commission’s requirements and standards. For a more effective approach, the commission even orders Belgian internet service providers to prohibit and if possible, block access to the blacklisted online casino websites. Doing this really helps Belgian casino players to prevent from committing punishable crimes since it will be impossible to access the blacklisted casino sites. Playing casino games at blacklisted sites is a criminal act and violators will be penalized. The Federal Public Service of Justice in Belgium has created a central EPIS or Excluded Persons Informations System which serves as a database of all the information regarding a person who enters an online casino site. All Belgian casino players are also required to disclose their citizen service number. The database contains information like the names of persons who decided to be excluded for some time and persons who developed a gambling addiction. This is such a great idea to help regulate the online gambling environment in Belgium. This database allows the gambling commission and even the Belgian government itself to analyze and monitor every player’s gambling behavior and be one step ahead when it comes to preventing gambling addiction.
Pros of Playing at NetEnt Casinos with Belgium License
There are many advantages when playing your favorite online casino games at Belgium-licensed NetEnt casinos. One of its main advantages is the protection of players. The Belgian gaming Commission, as well as the Belgian Government and Parliament, is seriously committed to protect players from gambling addiction, fraud, major financial loss, and a lot more. Players are ensured of a safe and responsible gaming experience at all Belgium-licensed casinos which is a major factor in choosing where to play online casino games. There are loss limits to prevent players from going bankrupt due to game losses and can also prevent players from developing a serious gambling addiction. Players are also ensured of a great gaming experience if an online casino is holding a Belgium gambling license. Passing through the Belgian Gaming Commission’s tough application process means that the online casino is definitely way above its competitors when it comes to the quality of the online gambling services that it’s currently offering.
The Reason Why the Belgium License Remains a Top Choice for Online Gambling Operators
The Belgium license is undoubtedly a top choice for online gambling operators. Even though it’s very hard to be qualified for a Belgium license, the high standards that it holds is definitely an advantage for online casinos. If they’ll be able to be awarded a Belgium gambling license, it’s a clear indication that it’s a top notch online casino with high quality casino services offered. Casino players all over the world will definitely give an online casino a try if it’s currently holding the highly coveted Belgium gambling license.
Player Protection at Belgium-licensed NetEnt Casinos
In Belgium, the government and gambling commission are both dedicated to protect the casino players from unfortunate events that could result to financial predicaments. The commission sets a loss limit for every 24 hours. The average loss per hour is presently set at 70 euros for the A+ category. For the B+ category, 25 euros is the set average loss per hour. These loss limits can greatly help in the prevention of gambling addiction since there will be a cooling off period each time the limit was reached. For the B+ category, payments made via credit cards are also not allowed which even lessens the chances of game addiction since it’s the second most commonly used payment method.
The Implementation of Belgium’s Gambling License
For an online casino operator to be allowed to offer its gaming services to Belgian players, it should possess a land-based casino or at least have a partnership with a land-based casino operator. A physical presence is required when issuing gambling licenses which is no surprise since Belgium is in fact one of the countries with the strictest gambling laws. In February 2012, the first ever Belgium gambling licenses under category A+ were issued to Pokerstars.be with a partnership with the Casino of Namen, Partouche.be with a partnership with the Casino of Dinant, Casino777.be with a partnership with the Casino of Spa.
List of NetEnt Casinos with a Belgium License
The following online casinos hold a Belgium License: GoldenPalace.be Casino, Casino 777, GrandGames Casino, Circus Online Casino, BetFirst Casino, SuperGame Casino, bwin Casino, Unibet Casino, Lucky Games Casino, and Win2Day Casino.