Online gambling is an activity enjoyed by players of all ages across the globe. Most people opt-in at the first casino they see without taking a moment to consider what consequences might follow.
In some countries, online gambling is welcomed with open arms, with laws and regulations set in place to create a safe gambling environment without restrictions. Other countries go about it the complete opposite way and aim to ban any forms of online gambling.
The problem is, that with each country having its own gambling regulations, players can often feel confused on what to do. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the gambling situation in Belgium and going through the legalities. By the end of the article, you’ll not only have peace of mind but will be ready to explore all gambling options available to Belgian citizens.
Belgium is not just home to the EU headquarters but has also been known as a centre of commerce and culture since the Middle Ages. Gambling has an impressive history in the country, dating back as far as the 1300s. Their national lottery started in the 15th Century, and since then gambling has become a popular activity among citizens.
Gambling has been legal in the country since 1999, but one wouldn’t think this considering how few land-based casinos have been established within the country's borders. Belgian Gaming Commission was instituted in May 1999 and was only amended again in January 2010. The biggest changes in the laws were the legal gambling age and the addition of online gambling. The current legal gambling age in the country is 21.
The law instated in 1999 covers all gambling, betting, and protection of players within the country. It was amended only to regulate online gambling as well. Currently, all casino operators, owners of casinos and employees of companies are required to have a licence. There are 10 different gambling licences that can be obtained in Belgium.
The interesting thing is that any online gambling sites that are provided with licences are connected to land-based gambling forms. In fact, the only way to obtain a licence for online gambling is if the site is connected to a land-based establishment situated in Belgium.
Much like Austria, there are a limited number of licenses that can be granted at any given time. Thus, there can only be up to 9 casinos, 180 arcades and 34 sportsbooks in Belgium. This makes it extremely difficult for foreign operators to gain access to the Belgian online gambling market.
Late in 2017, the Belgium government made a change in their laws to curb online gambling operators. The new laws put a stop to most gambling advertising and any form of affiliate marketing activities. The new laws have been put on hold during the European Commission’s standstill period but will come into force 8 months after the government has published the decree in the Belgian Official Gazette.
Once the new laws are in force, online casino operators will only be allowed to promote their offerings via their own websites or personalised advertising. The latter refers to email and SMS which can only be sent to existing customers. Any and all online casino operators must have a B+ licence before they are allowed to offer any online gambling services to Belgian players.
As mentioned before, these sites are also required to be connected to a land-based gambling establishment within Belgium. Online casino operators who try to offer gambling services to Belgian players without the necessary documentation will be blacklisted and blocked. These operators also risk facing criminal charges.
The good news is that the restrictions and punishments are solely focused on casino operators. Thus, if you have managed to find an online casino willing to accept Belgian players you will not be prosecuted or hunted down.
In most countries, the biggest concern for most players is getting lucky and striking a win. In other countries, there are hoops to jump through, including declaring online gambling wins and paying tax. Many countries luckily tend to focus their tax laws and regulations on online casino operators.
Fortunately, this is the case in Belgium. The downside is that it has been proven extremely difficult to actually make a win from the licensed online gambling sites offered in the country. However, any winnings you manage to make are tax-free and yours to keep.
Online casino operators, on the other hand, are not so lucky. The country’s law states that all gambling companies are required to pay taxes, and these were raised again in 2016. Not only that but these operators are also charged annual licensing fees which they need to pay if they wish to maintain their licence.
Belgium is one of those interesting countries where all forms of gambling are legal, but there are various restrictions placed on them. For instance, if you wanted to play at a legal online gambling site, you’d have to find one linked to a land-based casino in Belgium.
The government is very strict with its regulation of the online gambling market, but again their main focus is the operators. As an individual player, you can play at any online casino that allows Belgian citizens to play there.
Unfortunately, there might not be a massive selection to choose from. If you are looking for a top-rated international online casino open to Belgian players, why not browse through our list. Each and every casino listed has proven to provide a safe, secure and responsible gaming experience.
These casinos are also top-rated because they tend to offer the biggest welcome bonuses, frequent rewards, the biggest gaming selection, as well as quality customer service.
Keep in mind that any online casino operating illegally in Belgium can be banned or blocked at any point in time.
On the 1st of June 2019, a number of new laws and limitations came into effect around playing at online casinos in Belgium.
As of August 2021, new changes were made in the Belgium regulations and players will now have an obligatory weekly deposit limit of €200.
Each of these changes has been set in place to potentially safeguard at-risk players from falling victim to problem gambling issues.
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