Gambling in Belgium is legal entertainment. The organization of the gambling business has been authorized since May 7, 1999. Online gambling has been legalized since 2002. The Belgian Gambling Commission regulates the gambling market and issues licenses.
Today the country operates:
- 3 hippodromes;
- 9 land-based casinos;
- over 2,600 bet acceptance points.
According to 2015 data, the gross income from the gambling business in Belgium amounted to 360.1 million EUR, of which 54.6 million is the income of bookmakers.
Belgium gambling legislation
Belgian law permits the organization and provision of gambling. Any entertainment in the course of which bets are placed are considered as such. Their list includes:
- card and board games;
- slot machines;
- sports betting.
Gambling does not include sports events themselves. Also, card and board games at carnivals and fairs and those organized for the purpose of charity are not considered gambling.
Any activity in the field of gambling is permissible only with a license issued by the Belgian Gaming Commission. Advertising of unlicensed establishments and participation in games on such sites is punishable by law.
Gambling regulators and laws
The Belgian Gaming Commission regulates the activities of gambling sites. The Commission operates in accordance with the Law on Gambling, adopted on May 7, 1999, and with the Law on Legalization of Online Gambling of 2002.
In the online gambling business, there are two additional royal decrees. According to the first, the operator is obliged to provide information about his name, site structure, server and contacts. The second requires the provision of information about:
- the operator’s creditworthiness;
- fiscal obligations;
- marketing policy of the company;
- protection of personal data and customer transactions;
- policy regarding socially vulnerable groups of the population.
Thus, the decrees require constant interaction between operators of online gambling sites with the Belgian Gaming Commission.
The provision of gambling services is taxed. The tax is 11% of the operator’s gross revenue. Since July 2016, the value added tax at online casinos has been increased to 21%.
The Belgian Gambling Commission issues several types of licenses. Among them:
- Class A license – issued to a casino for 15 years;
- A + – online casino organization;
- B – gambling halls with slot machines, issued for 9 years;
- В + – online slot machines and arcades;
- С – issued to drinking establishments, allows placing slot machines;
- D – license for the activities of all previous classes;
- E – license for the sale and purchase, import and export of equipment for gambling;
- F1, F1 + and F2 are betting licenses. Allows you to accept bets at land-based bookmaker outlets, online and from mobile devices.
- G1 and G2 – licenses for holding lotteries and tournaments with the participation of television and the media.
The type of license in Belgium is paid. A casino license costs 15,000 EUR, gambling halls – 7,500 EUR, sales and repairs of equipment for gambling – 2,500 EUR. A company can hold only one type of license.
An application for a license to the Belgian Gambling Commission is submitted with a number of documents. These include:
- IDs of the founder / founders of the company;
- certificate of observance of political and civil rights;
- certified copies of tax returns (last three);
- extract from the court report (no later than three months from the date of receipt).
Also, in order to obtain permission to organize a gambling business, it is necessary to form insurance capital. The amount of capital depends on the type of license:
- А, А + – 250,000 EUR;
- B, B + – 75,000 EUR;
- E – 25,000 EUR;
- F1 – 10,000 EUR;
- F1 + – 75,000 EUR;
- G1 – 80,000 EUR.
The list of permitted gambling is regulated by royal decree. It complements the 1999 Gambling Act. In Belgium casinos, table games and automatic games are allowed. Table games include poker, baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette, sic bo, bingo. Automatic – slots, betting terminals, video poker and others.
For establishments of different classes, there is a list of games supplied using slot machines. The following slots are available in the casino:
- with reels and video slots;
- video poker;
- digital versions of bingo and keno;
- terminals with bets on horse racing;
- wheel of Fortune.
It is allowed to place slot machines (up to 30 slot machines) and digital versions of table games in the gaming halls:
- black Jack;
- terminals for bets;
No more than two machines can be placed in drinking establishments. Of the permitted games – an electronic version of billiards.
Laws protecting clients of land-based and online casinos
Citizens over the age of 21 have the right to visit casinos and gambling halls. Persons over 18 years of age can play machines in drinking establishments and place bets. In all types of establishments, except for casinos, payments are made in cash. Bank cards are accepted only in land-based establishments and online casino sites if the transaction amount exceeds EUR 10,000.
Bets in casinos and gambling halls are accepted by coupons or chips. They are purchased for real money. Prize coupons and chips can also be exchanged for real money in establishments. The only bets accepted in real currency are sports betting.
The limits for bets, losses and wins are determined by the King of Belgium:
- in gambling halls, a player can place bets no more than 25 EUR per hour;
- in pubs, the total hourly rate does not exceed EUR 12.5;
- at the points of acceptance of bets, you can place no more than 12.5 EUR per hour.
Any violation of the Gambling Act by operators is punishable by a penalty of one month to three years. A fine of EUR 0.64-2 478 will also be charged. In the event of a repeated violation, the penalties are doubled, the money of the institution is also seized and the equipment for gambling is confiscated.
Online gambling in Belgium
Online gambling has been allowed in Belgium since 2002. A +, B + and F1 + licenses are only issued to individuals or companies who are physically represented. That is, to organize online sports betting, you need to have a license from an F1 bookmaker and own at least one real betting point.
The popularity of online gambling is growing every year. The growth in demand can be traced by analyzing the reports of the annual profits of online establishments. Thus, in 2014, the revenue of online casinos amounted to 54 million EUR. This is twice the income reported in the 2013 report. Online gambling halls brought in 49.8 million EUR in 2015, and bookmakers that accept bets on sites – 46.3 million EUR.
To date, registered in Belgium:
- online casino – 101;
- internet poker rooms – 14;
- sites for sports betting – 21;
- sites with online bingo – 18;
- mobile online casinos – 14;
- online lotto – 3;
- sites for betting on fantasy sports – 2.
The most popular online casinos providing services in Belgium are:
- Omni Slots provides a 100% deposit bonus on the first deposit of 300 EUR + 50 free spins. Site languages - French, German, English;
- Betsupremacy Casino offers a 100% deposit bonus when you deposit 300 USD. Site languages - English and German;
- 7Bit Casino – provide a welcome bonus of 100% of the maximum deposit of EUR 100 and 175 free spins. Site language – English;
- BetAdonis Casino with a 100% deposit bonus for deposits up to 115 EUR. The site is provided in English and German;
- Casino Room – provides two types of deposit bonuses: 100% when you deposit 500 EUR + 60 free spins on Starburst slot with promo code BONUSCR and 100% when depositing 500 EUR + 80 free spins on Starburst slot machine with promo code CRBONUS.
In addition to online slots, bets and table games, other gambling entertainment is also popular in Belgium. These include bingo, bingo and fantasy sports. Also, the popularity of mobile casinos has been growing recently.
Popular slot machines
In Belgium, the most popular slots are modern slots with numerous bonuses, plot and 3D animation. The list of favorite slots for online users includes products from Betsoft, NetEnt, Pragmatic Play, NYX Gaming and QuickSpin. Among them:
- Viking Age (Betsoft);
- Gonzos Quest (NetEnt);
- Queen of Gold (Pragmatic Play);
- Titan Thunder (QuickSpin);
- The Spin Lab (NYX Gaming).
Among the machines with digital table games, Belgians prefer the products of NetEnt, Playtech and iSoftBet. Analyzing the lists of popular applications in online casinos in Belgium, we note that games with a high-quality visual component, a convenient control panel and various additional features are in great demand.
Even new and not so well-known companies (for example, Endorphina) are more successful than the monsters of the gambling industry – Greentube and IGT. This is primarily due to the fact that the audience of gambling establishments, including online sites, is “getting younger.” The number of women playing is also increasing. Unlike men, they prefer bright and varied gameplay.
Belgian casino software developers
Today, there are no well-known Belgian online slots developers in the global gambling market. Manufacturing companies working in the gambling business are mainly engaged in the creation of equipment and software for land-based casinos. These include:
- Belgian Gaming Technology;
- Elaut N.V. (Victory & Dice Roulette);
Belgian Gaming Technology supplies casino equipment, distributes physical slot machines from global manufacturers, provides service and technical support.
Elaut N.V. (Victory & Dice Roulette) is a developer of equipment for land-based casinos. The company produces roulette and craps, creates combined platforms for table games.
GAA is a developer and supplier of board game and bingo equipment.
Seeben – Provides computer hardware and software for casinos in Belgium.
Prospects for the development of gambling business in Belgium
Today the gambling industry in Belgium is legalized and quite developed. Gambling services are delivered both in land-based establishments and online. Most of the companies represented in the Belgian gambling market are national. However, the Gambling Commission also cooperates with world renowned providers.
For example, Belgians use the well-known poker rooms Poker Stars and Party Poker, which are not owned by national operators. Betcenter and Canadian developer Income Access launched an affiliate program last year. And the management of the reputable national brand Circus Group has entered into a partnership with the developer of software for casinos Betsoft.
The Belgian government plans to further support the integration of the national and global gambling market. At the same time, the country’s legislative framework will continue to adhere to the policy of protecting users from gambling addiction, regulate permissible bets and loss limits, and blacklist dubious platforms.
The gambling business in Belgium is strictly regulated by law. Land and online establishments operate exclusively under licenses issued by the Belgian Gaming Commission. Every year, the commission reviews various online sites, checks their reliability and monitors the market. Suspicious or banned sites are blacklisted.
The gambling industry in Belgium generates multi-million dollar revenues and at the same time cares about the safety of consumers. The decrees of the King of Belgium regulate the limits of bets and losses within an hour. Such measures have been taken to combat gambling addiction.