On the third day of December, 2009, the Lower Chamber of the Belgian Parliament approved changes to Belgian gambling laws which will eventually see the legalization and regulation of internet gambling. The new amendments, termed the New Belgian Gaming Legislation, were published on February 1st of this year, and are expected to come into effect by the first day of 2011 at the very latest.
When the new laws take over, all games of chance will be effected, whether they are offered online or offline. A new licensing scheme will come into action, and it will cover poker, sports betting (whether fixed-odd or mutual) and horse race betting. National lotteries will not be changed, and will remain the monopoly of the state. Licensing and regulation of all online gambling in Belgium will be controlled by the Belgian Gaming Commission.
Once the changes come into effect, a group wishing to offer internet gambling services based out of Belgium will first be required to obtain a license for land-based gambling in Belgium. Furthermore, the computer servers that power the gambling site will have to be located on Belgian soil. This means that foreign operators will be required to become licensed operators of land-based gambling establishments in Belgium before they can offer their services online.
These requirements may seem reasonable, but it may prove difficult for foreign operators to obtain a license to offer internet gambling in Belgium. This is because a Royal Decree has placed a limit on the number of licenses available. Preference for these licenses will obviously be given to Belgian gambling groups.
Considering these stiff requirements, it is reasonable to imagine that foreign gambling operators will simply target Belgian players from abroad, without bothering to apply for a license from the Belgian Gaming Commission. While this would be a breach of Belgian gambling laws, the laws clearly do not apply in other jurisdictions, so any arguments on the part of the Belgian government would be moot.