The Belgian Gaming Commission recently announced that it had blacklisted several online poker rooms. The new online gaming laws in Belgium make it illegal for Belgian players to use these blacklisted online poker rooms.
Popular online poker sites such are William Hill, Betfair, Expekt, Stan James, Betsson, and Betclick are now on the Belgian Gaming Commission blacklist. The Belgian Gaming Commission noted that these online poker sites continued offering real money poker services to Belgian citizens even after the country passed the Belgian Gambling Act in 2011.
According to the new gambling laws in Belgium, Belgian citizens can gamble only at online poker rooms that the Belgian Gambling Commission has approved and licensed.
The commission has approved and licensed only three online poker rooms so far, namely: Partouche.be, PokerStars.be, and GPWin.be. According to Belgian gaming laws, online poker rooms must either operate land casinos in Belgium or get into a partnership deal with operators of existing land casinos in Belgium to get a license to offer real money poker services in Belgium. Accordingly, PokerStars.be got into a partnership deal with Casino de Namur, a brand belonging to Circus Groupe. The owner of Partouche.be also owns four land casinos in Belgium. GPWin.be is the Belgian version of GoldenPalacePoker.com, which owns land casinos in Belgium.
The Belgian government has directed its Internet service providers (ISPs) to block blacklisted online poker rooms and direct players who try accessing blacklisted sites to online poker rooms licensed in Belgium. A Belgian poker player caught playing at any blacklisted site will be fined as much as €25,000.
The Belgian Gaming Commission has already blacklisted 30 online poker sites such as 888 Poker, Titan Poker, Chili Poker, and Everest Poker. Prominent online poker rooms such as Party Poker have objected to the Belgian gaming laws, claiming that the Belgian government cannot enforce its laws because they violate European Union (EU) laws.
Fortunately, Belgian gaming laws do not prevent Belgian poker players from playing against players in other countries. Although Belgium has blacklisted several online poker rooms and licensed only a handful, Belgian poker players at approved online poker rooms can play against players from the rest of the world. For instance, Belgian players at PokerStars.be can play against PokerStars.com players.
Players from France and Italy are not so lucky because the law in their countries prevents them from playing against players from other countries. Players at PokerStars.it, therefore, can play only against other Italian players at PokerStars.it.