Belgium Seizes €600,000 from Blacklisted Betclic Poker
Belgian gambling regulators have seized €600,000 from Betclic Everest, a skin on the iPoker Network, which was operating in Belgium without a license. If proved to have been operating illegally in the country, the online poker room will have to pay heavy fines to the Belgian government.
According to the Public Prosecution Office (PPO), Betclic Everest had made €600,000 by operating an illegal online poker business in the country. Betclic, an online gambling operator based in France, has obtained poker gaming licenses in Malta, Italy, France, and Gibraltar. However, Belgian regulators have not granted it a license. In order to get a license in Belgium, operators ought to sign a partnership deal with a Belgian land gambling company. The law also requires operators to base their servers within Belgium.
In fact, Belgian authorities had placed Betclic in its blacklist in May 2012.
Belgium has gambling laws that penalize operators of illegal gambling outfits as well as players who take part in unlicensed games. If an operator is found guilty of operating without a license, they will have to pay fines of up to €600k. This fine can be doubled if the offence is found to be very serious. If a player is caught playing online poker at an unlicensed online poker room, he/she can also be fined.
The PPO is now in a position to charge Betclic’s board of directors. If they are found to be guilty, they could get prison terms of up to five years.
Belgium’s gambling laws have been severely criticized, especially after Belgian authorities detained Norbert Teufelberger, chief executive officer of Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc. in 2012.
Gaming advocates had even published a letter in the Financial Times. They wrote: “While the Belgian authorities are free to intimidate Europe’s leading online gaming groups with threats about the consequences of challenging their domestic gambling laws, the European Commission has yet to receive an answer to its own concerns regarding the regulatory regime in Belgium.”
Later, Bwin.party signed a partnership deal with Belcasinos, a Partouche-owned online casino group, so that it could legally offer Party Poker in Belgium. The commission quickly approved the deal.
Licensed online poker sites in Belgium are Unibet, PokerStars, GoldenPalace.Be, and Partouche. PokerStars got a license in Belgium after partnering with Circus Group, and Partouche got a license because of Casino de Dinant, which it owns. Casino 777 obtained a license because of its partnership with Casino de Spa, a property belonging to Partouche.
PokerStars partnered with Circus Groupe to obtain its license; Partouche has a license with Casino de Dinant, one of its own properties. Casino777’s license is listed with Casino de Spa, which is also a Belcasinos/Partouche property.
As soon as Bwin.party got a partnership with Belcasinos, its dispute with the Belgian Gambling Commission came to an end. Norbert Teufelberger stated: “Following recent developments in Belgium and after further dialogue with the local regulator, we have put our differences of opinion behind us and are now focused on the immediate commercial opportunity.”