The best Belgian online casinos are legal, licensed and safe thanks to effective regulation courtesy of the Gaming Commission. Belgium’s gambling laws are quite strict, but we must commend them for striking a mostly fair balance between consumer protection and freedom in the market.
International casino sites are allowed to apply for online gaming licenses in Belgium, although the licensing process is somewhat restrictive. Some of Belgium’s enforcement mechanisms for keeping the industry in line are more heavy-handed than we would like to see (such as internet blacklists), but overall the system works well for players. If an online casino is licensed in Belgium, you can assume it is a safe place to play.
Licensed Online Casinos in Belgium
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It is even more important to stay with licensed online casinos in Belgium than in other countries because authorities here do impose penalties on players who visit unlicensed gambling sites. In 2015, the Belgium Gambling Commission fined 79 players €200 each for placing bets at Betclic.com back before Betclic had a license to operate online.
Fortunately, the list of licensed Belgian casino sites has grown and players now have a large number of options when choosing where to play. Favorable gaming laws have also made it easier for players to make real money deposits and get paid now that there are no restrictions on processing payments for licensing gambling operators. Getting started is a simple matter of choosing a licensed casino site and signing up for an account.
Belgian Casino Law
Belgium had an outright ban on games of chance up until 1999. Lawmakers noticed that the total prohibition of gambling and casinos had resulted in a large and unregulated underground industry that was unsafe for players and unmanageable by the government. Thus, the Gaming and Betting Act of 7 May 1999 was passed.
This act also established the Belgian Gaming Commission for the purpose of overseeing ambling in Belgium. One of the other important missions of the Commission is to protect the underage and vulnerable from the potential harms of gambling. To this end, the Commission takes steps to ensure a minimum age of 18 for visitors of casino sites in Belgium and to exclude those who may have gambling problems.
It is required by law that all players be able to add themselves to an exclusion list that would prohibit them from entering any brick-and-mortar casino or playing online. In 2004, authorities created the Excluded Persons Information System (EPIS) which is used by both real world and online casinos to prevent excluded players from participating in gambling.
The 1999 law was rewritten in 2010 in order to address online gambling and came into effect the following year. These updates established the means by which online casinos in Belgium are regulated, licensed and monitored for compliance. Most importantly, the law established licensing guidelines for operators that wish to offer their games online for Belgian citizens.
The Belgian Gaming Commission licenses a range of gaming activities ranging from operating slot machines to working in a casino. There are three licenses in particular that apply specifically to online gambling:
A and A+ Licenses: These licenses are issued for brick-and-mortar casinos and Belgian casino sites. The A license applies to real-world gambling while the A+ license must be obtained for a company to host online casino games in Belgium.
The Gaming Commission provides a list of licensed online casinos in Belgium along with the name of the local brick-and-mortar casino with which each is partnered. Remember, one of the requirements of an online gambling license in Belgium is a partnership with an established local casino.
B and B+ Licenses: B-class licenses are required for “slot machine arcades.” The regular B license applies to slot machines in the real world while the B+ license may be issued to offer games of chance online. The Gaming Commission places an upper limit of 180 total B-class licenses, and all 180 have been awarded to date.
As is the case with A-class licenses, only B-class license holders may apply for a B+ license.
F1, F2 and F1+ Licenses: F-class licenses have to do with horse racing and sports betting. An F1 license is required for running a sports betting operation while an F2 license is required for accepting sports bets (such as betting shops). An F1+ license is required to offer online sports betting.
Each of the above links is worth saving if you live in Belgium and plan on visiting an online casino or betting sites because local laws make it a crime to play at unlicensed Belgian casino sites. Players have in fact been fined for doing business with offshore casinos.
Belgian gaming law requires that all prospective online casino licensees be partnered with a local establishment that is licensed for gambling activities in the real world. The European Union initially expressed reservations regarding this requirement but has seemingly warmed to the Belgian approach.
If you ever have any questions as to whether or not any particular online casino is licensed in Belgium, just visit the Gaming Commission website and check the list of license holders yourself. Also, note that licensed casino sites must operate on a .be domain name (as opposed to .com).
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.