PokerStars has been granted a Casino de Namur A+ license, making pokerstars.be the first fully licensed online gaming site in Belgian to reach that status. The new license allows the company to officially make their online offerings open to Belgian residents.

Big Step Forward

This move represents a big step forward for the company in their fight for European poker dominance. PokerStars has successfully navigated complicated government regulations to set up legal online operations in Italy, France and Denmark; which is no easy task.

Like so many other European governments, the Belgian state fought hard to protect their long held gambling monopoly from international competition. Their insistence that online poker sites maintain a link with land based Belgian casinos, as well as physically maintaining servers in the country caused many gaming companies to ignore the licensing process all together.

Belgian Blacklist

Some major players like Bwin and 888 are currently marketing their offerings to Belgian gamers without a license. But that particular strategy has a very short shelf life. Belgian authorities have put together a blacklist of unlicensed gaming sites and will be blocking those domain names from domestic users.

That list includes some of the biggest, and most credible, names in online poker including 888 and Everest. Notably absent from the blacklist was Bwin, which has been serving the Belgian market for quite some time. Despite complaining bitterly to EU officials about the Belgian gaming monopoly, it’s believed that the company is in fact in the process of applying for a gaming license.

All Smiles

If anyone at PokerStars was upset by the regulatory hurdles, they weren’t letting on about it this week. In a prepared statement Guy Templer, PokerStars’ head of business development said, “PokerStars is proud to be among the first fully licensed operators in Belgium…This furthers our goal to obtain licenses in all newly regulated markets and we look forward to working with the Circus Groupe and Gaming Board.”

For their part, Belgian government officials emphasized the benefits of a regulated gaming market as a form of consumer protection.

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