The EGBA (European Gaming and Betting Association) and the RGA (Remote Gambling Association) lodged a complaint on Wednesday 23 June with the European Commission against the present Belgian law regarding gaming.
Both agencies protest against the fact that Belgian law prohibits foreign providers of gambling sites via the Internet from accessing the Belgian market. Only companies which are established in Belgium and presently have a license for offline gambling activities qualify for a permit to offer their services online.
That, according to both the EGBA and the RGA, is a violation of the European rules of free movement of services and access to markets. "That we must apply for a permit, is not the problem, but the requirements surrounding the applicant are. The Belgium authorities do not discriminate against Belgian providers and that is not acceptable", said Maarten Haijer, legal expert of the EGBA. Marc Callu of the Gambling and Gaming Commission thinks that the Belgian law will remain intact. "In the European jurisdiction, nowhere do I see that the free movement of trade invovles gambling. The Member States can impose their own rules regarding the protection of the consumer and at this moment, there is no possibility to monitor internet servers based abroad".
Callu admits that the government does restrict the offer of permits. "But that goes back to the previous gambling and gaming law of ten years ago. As soon as a new licence becomes available, anyone may try to obtain it." The Belgian MPs approved the law in December 2009. There are still details in the decree of the new law which must be adopted before its implementation and that has been delayed by the fall of the government itself. The European commissioner has let it be known that no action will be taken against Belgium as long as contrary laws do not come into effect. The new law will become effective from 1 January 2011.
Internet gambling remains in anticipation regarding these final legal decisions. THE EGBA and the RGB hope that the new Belgian government, and its leader acting as the European President, will allow a law which opens up the Belgium Internet gambling and gaming to pass.