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Bwin.party Receives Belgian License

By Amanda Carter Thursday, March 07, 2013
Amanda Carter

Bwin.party has received the go-ahead to offer legal sports betting and poker and casino games in Belgium under its bwin.be domain.


Players in Belgium will now have access to bwin's international player pool. An 11% gaming tax will be imposed on the site, but there are no restrictions on deposits or game offerings.

 

The A+ gaming license granted to bwin is the seventh for dot.be poker and casino games. Others holding Belgian A+ licenses are PokerStars, Unibet, Poker770, GoldenPalace.be, Win2day and Unibet.

 

Bwin's F1+ sports betting license is the eighth sports betting license granted by Belgium.

 

Operators wishing to obtain a Belgian gaming license must have a land-based presence in the country. Bwin's poker and casino licensee is Casino Kursaal Oostende NV, which is owned by Partouche Group subsidiary, Belcasinos.

 

Belgium's granting of bwin.party's license follows a long period of legal back and forth between the regulator and operator. Bwin had previously been blacklisted by Belgium, and was fined €75k by the Belgian Court for offering casino and poker games without a license.


Bwin, which denied any wrongdoing, filed a countersuit against the Belgian government that claimed Belgian regulations stood in violation of EU law. That suit was dismissed by the Belgian Court, prompting bwin.party to file a complaint with the European Commission. The EC sided with bwin on the grounds that Belgium's requirement to partner with a land-based casino appeared to be a restriction on trade under EU treaties.


In November, bwin.party co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger was detained by Belgian authorities while attending the Responsible Gaming conference in Brussels. Gambling industry leaders came to Teufelberger's defense with a letter to the Financial Times complaining of harassment and “intimidation” by the Belgian government.


Now that bwin holds a Belgian license, the bickering may have reached its end.


According to a bwin.party spokesman, “What is happening in Belgium is part of [bwin's] gradual transition, as required by the BGC.”


But legal challenges to national regulatory regimes remain and are not likely to progress until the European Commission clarifies its Action Plan and takes a stand on alleged breaches of EU treaties. 

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