Under Belgium’s gaming law, only businesses with land-based gaming operations have the right to extend their offerings online.
Throughout 2020 and into the start of 2021 all land-based gambling venues, including cafes, bars and restaurants with gambling machines, have been hit by forced closures as the government responded to the threat of COVID-19.
The country’s gambling regulator had an equally tough year in 2020, after four of its officials left following a report for the ombudsman's Integrity Centre. The report alleged the misuse of government resources as well as the acceptance of gifts from gambling firms.
Separately, in 2019, a Belgian Constitutional Court annulled a royal decree which outlines the fees owed by online licence holders to cover administrative expenses at the Belgian Gambling Commission (BGC).
The court said there was no reason holders of A+ and B+ licences should pay different amounts for the ongoing supervision costs of the Belgium Gambling Commission.
Under the Royal Decree on 2020 licensing fees, the fee for a Class A licence is €22,085. In addition, under the terms of a Class A licence, casino licensees that operate gaming machines must pay €714 per machine, with a minimum total of €21,420.
On February 6, 2020, the Council of State annulled Article 1(1) and Article 3(2) and (3) in the Royal Decree of October 25, 2018 on the operation of online games of chance and betting. The Belgian Gaming Commission published information about the impact of these decisions on online gambling licensees on February 19, 2020.
However the courts have largely upheld recent crackdowns on gambling advertising that make it almost impossible for companies to market their brands outside of their own premises.
Other recent key developments include anti-money laundering (AML) requirements brought into force in October 2017 requiring operators to carry out due diligence measures when players wager stakes or collect winnings of €2,000 or more.
A player can ask for self-exclusion through the Belgian Gaming Commission. The player is then registered in Belgium’s EPIS-database (Excluded Persons information System).
Each customer entering a casino or arcade must be checked against the EPIS-database, prior to entering.
EPIS is not just a self-exclusion system. It also includes most of the persons legally excluded such as judicial officers, bailiffs, police officers, etc. (Article 54, para 2 of the Gaming Act).
Self-exclusions and exclusions coming from gaming establishments are both made for an indefinite period
When excluded from a casino, a player can ask the Gaming Commission to be able to re-enter the casino. If the commission agrees to this, a three-month period applies before the player can return to the casino.
Since July 15, 2011, exclusions at the request of a third party have been made possible. Social workers and other interested parties can apply to the Gaming Commission to limit the access of a person believed to be a problem gambler to a casino or slot hall.
The BGC issues leaflets regarding player protection and discusses the issue of player protection with all members of staff during the session staff members have to attend in order to obtain their gaming license. The display of these the player protection leaflets is mandatory for all casinos.
Legal Gambling Age: Access to Class I casino gambling and class II machine gambling is restricted to people of 21 years of age or more while betting shops are open to those who are not minors (at least 18 years of age).<br/><br/>
Age restrictions for online games mirror those that apply to land-based games so all online games are prohibited to players under 21 years old, except for betting which is prohibited to players under 18 years old.
Smoking Ban: Yes, since July 1, 2011, a general ban in the hospitality industry has been implemented. Smoking rooms equipped with smoke extraction systems, subject to further conditions, are permitted. Slotmachines or table games are not allowed in the smoking rooms
Terrestrial: Multiple licences (9)
Online: Multiple licences (maximum 9) – only offline casinos (with an A licence) can operate an online casino gaming site.
Terrestrial:Licence A (Class I) casino games include, but are not limited to, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, punto banco, chemin de fer, poker and slot machine gaming. Live poker games and poker tournaments can only be operated in casinos.
Online:Online casino games, including but not limited to roulette, blackjack, baccarat, punto banco, chemin de fer, poker and slot machine gaming are permitted under Category A+ licences. A lower-stake category of licence is available for gaming arcades (B+ licence).
The online permits lower stake forms of most A+ licensed games.
Market Protection Measures / Tools to Tackle Illegal Gambling:Payment blocking, website blocking and advertising restrictions for unlicensed operators are all available sanctions.
Currency : Euro
(Source:The World Bank)
GNI (2014, Local Currency, Millions): 3,96,229
Internet Penetration (Internet Users): 85%
(Source: The World Bank)
Mobile Penetration (Mobile Cellular Subscriptions): 114%
(Source: The World Bank)
Doing Business Ranking (June 2015):43
(Source: World Bank Group)
Last Updated: May 2019