Belgian Gambling Laws Framework May Be Challenged in EU Court

The Belgian gambling laws framework is currently incomplete and may not stand up if challenged in the EU Court of Justice.

online bingo games in Belgium - GamingZion

In its current state the Belgian gambling laws framework is still incomplete and if challenged, it is unlikely that it will survive in the EU Court of Justice.

The framework came into force on January 1 of 2011 and has essentially locked out foreign gambling operators out of the lucrative Belgian gambling market.

The legislation is a closed licensing system for online casinos in Belgiumand requires a physical location within the country as well as a license to operate land-based casinos in Belgium.

The Belgian laws also prescribe severe punishments for those who advertise, offer, or promote gambling services to Belgian citizens, whereby affiliates and casino marketers may be arrested if Belgium choses to follow the USA route and mercilessly enforce their gambling laws.

This legal distinction between the world of traditional casinos, internet gambling and online bingo games in Belgium already withstood one challenge at home.

In 2010 Betfair, Telebet and the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) challenged the law in front of the Belgian Constitutional Court. On July 14, the Constitutional Court dismissed the charges, basically rubberstamping the law.

In the past few cases in front of the EU Court of Justice, the arguments used by the Belgian Justices to defend the constitutionality of the law were rejected.

EU Court of Justice stated that fear of money laundering and organized crime infiltration cannot be used as an excuse to exclude gambling operators from other EU member states.

The Court of Justice reiterated that a discriminatory restriction is compatible with European Union law “only if it is covered by an express derogating provision … namely public policy, public security or public health.”

The possibility of money laundering, the court stated, can easily be discovered through the use of independent accounting and spot verifications and should not be used to restrict trade.

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