bwin.party Loses Belgium Blacklist Case
bwin.party has failed in its bid to have Bwin.com removed from the Belgian Gambling Commission’s blacklist.
The Court of First Instance in Brussels upheld a decision this week by the Belgian Ministry of Justice and the regulatory Gaming Commission who on May 9th added Bwin to the list of gaming operators whose IP address must be blocked.
bwin.party fought the decision claiming that it suffered, “enormous financial, commercial and reputational damage,” as a result of being added to the blacklist in Belgium.
The Belgian Gambling Commission released a statement applauding the court for upholding its decision saying, “In a judgment delivered today, the President of the Court of First Instance of Brussels has denied a request by BwinParty, operator of the online gambling website www.bwin.com, to order the Belgian Gaming Commission to remove www.bwin.com from its blacklist and to unblock access to it. The President found that BwinParty’s request had no legal merit.”
Bwin is the latest victim in Belgium’s strategy of blacklisting and banning online gaming providers for servicing customers without a valid license. Belgian Gaming Law requires only entities with a land-based gaming license may apply for a license to extend their services to the Internet. As such, the law strongly favors the local market.
The court ruling represents a set-back for other blacklisted iGaming operators in Belgium which include 888, Titan Poker, William Hill, Betfair, Everest, and several others. PokerStars operates in the country through its “.be” suffix and affiliation with Casino de Namur’s gaming license.
Unlicensed gaming sites are not the only targets of Belgium’s Gambling Act. The law also provides for fines against citizens of up to €25,000 for patronizing any of the blacklisted gaming sites.
Belgium along with Germany have been the longest holdouts against honoring EU law designed to prevent governments from clinging to lucrative gambling monopolies.
It is unclear if bwin.party will seek alternative approaches to getting off the Belgian blacklist. The country offers blacklisted sites the chance to be removed from the list if they agree to bar Belgian players. Operators may then begin the process of applying for a gaming license once removed from the blacklist.
bwin.party may wish to drop their efforts in Belgium as they seek to comply with the licensing process of the Nevada Gaming Control Board who has demonstrated an interest regarding practices of license applicants operating illegally in international markets.