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Belgium Ignores EC Online Gambling Warnings

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Despite the fact that most countries in Europe fall under and adhere to the
laws, rules and regulations as set out by the European Union (EU) through the
European Commission
(EC), the reality is that when it comes to the subject
of gambling there is still much ‘dissention in the ranks.’

Take Belgium for instance. On December 3 this year the Belgium government passed
a law to regulate online gambling in the country, which blatantly disregarded
key changes suggested by the EU. In March the EC was sent a draft of the new
Belgium gambling law
, to which it raised objections.

These included removing Belgium’s proposed limit on the number of online
gambling licenses that can be issued, a requirement that online gambling
operators and their servers be based in Belgium, and the right to prosecute
Belgium online gamblers who gamble at licensed EU online gambling sites.

However, when the Belgium Parliament voted in its new gambling law last week, it
soon became clear that all of the suggested EU amendments had been ignored. As
such, the EGBA is expected to study the law in detail and possibly launch legal
action against Belgium when the law comes into effect.

Said Sigrid Ligne of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), ‘The
law is highly questionable from a legal point of view, as a high level of
consumer protection can be achieved by specific and targeted legislation, not by
protecting the operators with a vested interest in the current situation.

‘It’s baffling that Belgium does not take into account the opinion of the EC
that crucial elements of the law are in conflict with EC law requirements. And
even more so with a view to the upcoming Belgian presidency of the EU. How can
Belgium show leadership in the EU, if it ignores the EC Treaty?’

Responsibility for the Belgian issue will fall under Michel Barnier, who will
replace Charlie McCreevy as the head of European Commission in February next
year. There is a concern that Barnier will not pursue the ‘free movement of
goods and services between EU member nations’ as McCreevy has

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