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As games developers have to pour more and more money into creating more innovative and impressive titles, game prices haven't really gone up dramatically.
So they try to make their money back in other ways - which is why in-game purchases have become so big. The UK's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee's inquiry into addictive and immersive technologies heard stories of young adults who'd built up debts of thousands of pounds through spending in games.
But the group of MPs looking into this also said that some gaming companies didn't give clear answers - especially on questions about what data was collected and the psychology underpinning how games were designed.
In , computer scientists suggested there was a link between loot boxes and problem gambling. But enforcing a ban on loot boxes for unders might prove difficult for the government, given consoles and online accounts can be easily shared by many people.
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EA games: Loot boxes aren't gambling, they're just like a Kinder Egg. While other operators to simply ignore these rules, the Belgian Gambling Commission is not as lax when it comes to licensing regulations.
This may be pocket change to some Belgium casino online operators, but it is enough to make them think twice about illegally offering their services in the country.
This attempt was quickly thrown out due to it having been illegal for the domains to exist within Belgium in the first place, however. Ironically, the above licence loophole gained by bwin.
At the time of writing, the blacklist is still in operation in Belgium. Despite EU trade laws taking down barriers to cross-border trade, this doesn't seem to have filtered through to the Belgian government.
Even if a betting site or casino is based in the European Union, it must have an eligible licence in Belgium. The number of licences issued is strictly regulated too.
A Licences: These allow major Belgian offline casinos to offer casino games online. In most cases, casino sites are run in conjunction with existing firms.
All nine casino licence holders have tie-ups with major existing offshore sites. Effectively, online gambling sites must have a fixed offline establishment within Belgium's borders.
This includes internet service providers if they allow access to unlicensed websites, media companies if they carry adverts for unlicensed sites, and banks if they process financial transactions to unlicensed operations.
Fines of up to , euros can be levied against companies breaking this law. Individuals can be fined up to 25, euros for using unlicensed websites although it's rare.
This makes it extremely difficult for Belgians to access unlicensed sites, although with so many legal options available, one would question why anyone would attempt to access an illegal site anyway.
B Licences: These govern who can operate online slot machines. They are smaller operators around Belgium, who also have deals with. C Licence: This list governs bingo machines in pubs and cafes where alcohol is served.
There are just over 30 as of February This list mostly features betting shops and sports associations in Belgium. An F1 licence is needed for organising wagers, while an F2 licence is required if you accept bets.
Under current Belgian gambling law, land-based casinos are permitted with the required licence. Brussels and Spa have the better casinos, but you will find slots and table games at most.
Slots: There is a strict limit of 15 automatic gaming terminals for each opened table, for at least five hours.
Casinos have a monopoly on video slot machines. However, players can enjoy a range of reel slots, video slots, and Wheel of Fortune-style machines for real money.
Slots are also found in dedicated arcades. Table Games: Familiar and popular games like roulette , Sic Bo, and craps are offered in most Belgian casinos.
European Roulette , commonly referred to as "La Roulette Anglaise" English Roulette is available. This plays like traditional European Roulette with the La Partage and En Prison rules of French Roulette removed.
The layouts are still displayed in French. Casino de Spa is situated in a town known for, predictably, its ancient spa.
If you're not enjoying the thermal bath, the casino offers table games, slots and poker. Roll'Hit is an interesting local variant that combines roulette and dice.
The Grand Casino sits right in the middle of Brussels city centre. Slot machines are the big attraction here. Grand Casino Brussels Viage boasts over machines, including many multi-game terminals from the likes of Novomatic.
The Grand Casino also has a small poker room, and in hosted the World Poker Tour WPT DeepStacks Brussels event. As with all land-based and online casinos in Belgium, visitors must be 21 or over to enter and must bring a valid ID card.
Membership for Belgian casinos is free after the first visit, however. Sportsbetting: Under Belgian gaming law, "totaliser" style bets are permitted on horse races at home and abroad.
Mobile gambling and interactive gambling What differences if any are there between the regulation of mobile gambling and interactive gambling on television?
The Gaming Act provides for the explicit regulation of media games. A media game is defined as a game of chance which is operated via media including television.
A provider of media games must obtain a G1 or G2 licence. Social gaming How is social gaming regulated in your jurisdiction?
There is currently no regulation in force that specifically regulates social games. Social games fall within the scope of the Gaming Act only if they qualify as a game of chance see Question 2, General definition.
For example, social games which do not require any stake to be committed whatsoever that is, completely free games are not games of chance and therefore fall outside the scope of the Gaming Act.
Caution must be exercised, as it must be verified that these games are genuinely free to play and do not involve, for example, hidden costs that qualify as a stake.
Blockchain technology To what extent is blockchain used in gambling in your jurisdiction? How is it regulated? It is not known whether blockchain is used in the Belgian gaming industry.
Further, there is at least currently no specific regulation for blockchain-related games of chance. If and to the extent blockchain-related games of chance correspond to the definition of games of chance, they will in principle fall within the scope of application of the Gaming Act and its implementing decrees.
Gambling debts Are gambling debts enforceable in your jurisdiction? The Belgian Civil Code contains a broad prohibition for the winner to make a judicial claim Article , Civil Code.
There is an important exception to this broad prohibition for games of chance and bets which have been commercialised under the appropriate licence Article , Civil Code , but a court has the power to reject an excessive claim.
The loser cannot reclaim the submitted stakes, except in cases of fraud Article Civil Code. Tax What are the applicable tax regimes for land-based and online gambling?
Land-based gambling Betting and gaming tax is generally levied on the gross amount of the stakes. Certain games of chance are explicitly excluded from betting and gaming tax, such as permitted lotteries.
There are several specific tax regimes which are summarised below. Casino games. In the Flemish Region, casino games are taxed on the gross amount of the stakes.
In the Walloon Region, casino games are taxed as follows:. Roulette without zero: at 2. In the Brussels-Capital Region, casino games are taxed as follows:.
Online gambling The three regions that is, the Walloon, Flemish and Brussels-Capital regions have the competence to determine the applicable tax rates for online games of chance and bets.
Introduction of VAT for online games of chance Under Article 44, section 3, 13 of the Belgian VAT Code, offline and online games of chance, bets and lotteries are VAT-exempt subject to conditions and limitations specified by the King.
Advertising To what extent is the advertising of gambling permitted in your jurisdiction? To the extent that advertising is permitted, how is it regulated?
Land-based gambling The Gaming Act explicitly prohibits advertising games of chance or gaming establishments if it is known that the game of chance or gambling establishment is not authorised under the Gaming Act.
A violation of this prohibition is a criminal offence. Online gambling In relation to online gambling, advertising unauthorised games of chance or gaming establishments is also prohibited.
Such a royal decree was adopted in Royal Decree of 25 October concerning the conditions to exploit online games of chance and bets.
The Gaming Commission also published a public opinion in which it clarified and interpreted several advertisement provisions of the Royal Decree of 25 October In two judgments of 6 February , the Belgian Council of State annulled several provisions of the Royal Decree of 25 October Articles 1 to 5 of the Royal Decree of 25 October contain advertising restrictions.
Articles 8 and 9 of the Royal Decree of 21 June state that the application for an online licence must clearly explain the advertising policy that is going to be implemented.
The same Royal Decree stipulates that an operator must observe a certain caution in its advertisements.
Developments and reform Legal development. Has the legal status of land-based and online gambling changed significantly in recent years, and if so how?
Land-based gambling The Gaming Act has been amended by the Law of 7 May "to amend the Law of 7 May on games of chance, bets, gaming establishments and the protection of the players" Law of 7 May The Law of 7 May was published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 15 May Some of the changes brought by the Law of 7 May include the following:.
Betting shops must conclude agreements with the local communes local authorities where they are located.
Betting shops must keep data relating to the commercialisation of automatic games of chance at permanent locations on Belgian territory.
Betting shops must not be located close to schools, hospitals, or places frequently visited by young people, unless permitted by the local communes.
Introduction of the F1P licence for the organisation of bets on horse races. New licensing criteria to obtain a C-licence gaming establishment class III.
The Royal Decree of 4 May on games of chance on virtual sporting events in fixed gaming establishments of Class IV regulates games of chance on virtual sports events in betting shops.
The Gaming Act limits the number of available B licences gaming arcades to To ensure the economic strength of the gaming arcades market the Gaming Commission has decided to decrease this number to Online gambling In April the Belgian Gaming Commission published an "investigatory report on loot boxes".
The report argues that certain loot boxes in video games qualify as a "game of chance" and fall within the scope of the Gaming Act. The report has triggered a number of criminal investigations into loot boxes.
Several video game developers have decided to amend their video games for the Belgian market. In , VAT was introduced on online gambling. A judgment of the Belgian Constitutional Court subsequently annulled this VAT regime.
Following the judgment, the broad VAT exemption for gaming transactions was reintroduced Article 44, section 3 13 , Belgian VAT Code.
The Law of 7 May also applies to the provision of online games of chance. The Gaming Commission has been given the power to prohibit certain bets if it the fairness of the event on which the bet is organised cannot be guaranteed or where it considers that certain bets are prone to fraud.
Under the amended Gaming Act, it has become possible to have "separate" criteria to commercialise land-based and online games of chance.
In , the Royal Decree of 25 October , which is an important implementing measure, was adopted. To clarify and interpret some of the provisions of this Royal Decree, the Gaming Commission established a subcommittee and published a public position.
In two judgments of 6 February , several provisions of this Royal Decree were annulled by the Belgian Council of State see Question 8, Restrictions and Question 16, Online gambling.
There are currently other proceedings pending before the Belgian Council of State in relation to the lawfulness of the Royal Decree's regulation of the weekly deposit limits and the Gaming Commission's public position that for the time being the deposit limits cannot be increased.
Are there any proposals for reform? Considering the amendment of the Gaming Act see Question 17 , it is unlikely that there will be any substantial legal changes concerning gambling in the near future.
Depending on the outcome of the court proceedings challenging the lawfulness of the Royal Decree of 25 October and subsequent guidance of the Gaming Commission, some changes may need to be made to the current framework for online games of chance.
Professional qualifications. Belgium, Attorney-at-law. Areas of practice. Gaming; EU law; competition and state aid; sports; new technologies; IT.
Dutch, English, French. Pieter has published widely in his areas of expertise. In the domain of gaming law, his recent publications include "Draft Belgian Bill would narrow VAT exemption for gambling" World Online Gambling Law Report, , Vol.
Also Found In Betting and Gaming General commercial. Changes Made to This Resource This resource is periodically updated for necessary changes due to legal, market, or practice developments.
Jurisdiction Belgium. Only a select few gambling sties have licenses to offer their services to Belgians. Normally, I would tell you to forget what the law says and play where you please.
The good news is there are a few recognizable international brands that have the proper licenses to host games here. These are the sites I would recommend first, as they are all truly legal Belgian betting sites.
The industry was far less restricted prior to Up to that point, we had the free reign to play games online where and how we wanted.