Belgian online casino: Guide to online casinos and gambling

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With Belgium’s capital, Brussels, serving as the seat of the EU, you can expect Belgium to lead the way in online casino laws and regulations. However, the government has created additional legislation to give them greater control over the industry. This is a bone of contention for gambling operators, but it doesn’t matter to casino players, who have had access to the best online slot machines for years.

Today, there is a good selection of Belgian online casinos. Belgium has stricter gambling laws than most EU countries, but there are not the kind of state monopolies you would find in other countries.

In this sports-mad nation, it is possible to bet on a range of team sports and horse racing. But what is the situation for online casino players? Belgium has a pretty good approach, as you will see in our comprehensive guide to Belgian gambling.

When it comes to online casinos, Belgium-based players actually have a good selection of real money sites and deposit options to choose from.

Online casinos with bonuses specific to Belgium

Licensed gaming sites offer a rich variety of bonuses and promotions to players across the country. Often online casinos in Belgium offer no-deposit or match bonuses as a welcome package to new members. No-deposit bonuses are by far the most popular, as they allow you to join a Belgian casino with no deposit required to start playing games.

Many sites also offer monthly and weekly promotions to existing members, such as award-winning slot machine tournaments and loyalty programmes. We always like to see Belgium’s online casinos offer regular bonuses to their members, and you will find that the sites listed here will offer very competitive bonus offers.

 

Online gambling options in Belgium

Online casinos licensed to operate in Belgium offer the same collection of games that you will find in most other regulated jurisdictions. A wide range of slot machines, table and card games and instant win games such as scratch cards are available. As in the rest of the world, the popularity of live dealer games such as live poker and live roulette has also seen a recent boom.

In Belgium, sports betting is a big business and most online casinos operating in the country offer sports betting options or even a dedicated site. Horse racing is probably the most popular sport to bet on in Belgium, with football (soccer) experiencing a resurgence thanks to the recent success of the national team. Cycling is there too, with nearly 20 Belgian cyclists having won the Tour de France, the sport is a source of national pride and a popular sports betting option.

Software suppliers

Although there may be fewer online casinos in Belgium than in many other EU jurisdictions, there is no shortage of options when it comes to high-quality gambling.

Among the best, and unsurprisingly also the most popular software developers who offer their games to Belgian gamblers, are

NetEnt

One of the largest, with a wide selection of slot machines and an impressive live casino suite.

Microgaming

One of the few developers who can compete with NetEnt for slots, Microgaming has created some of the most famous slot games of all time.

Playtech

Known for its Age of the Gods series of progressive slot machines, Playtech also offers a suite of high quality live dealers.

Evolution Gaming

The undisputed kings of live dealer games, Evolution doesn’t offer much else, but their live games are the best.

Our team has ensured that all of our online casino sites in Belgium featured here stock hundreds of games from these award-winning software providers. Whichever casino you choose from the list, you’re sure to be spoilt for choice.

 

Best deposit methods for Belgian players

In legal online casinos, Belgian depositors have a wide choice of banking options. Most have no or low fees and the limits can be high. A bank card or credit card is not always required. Often, anonymous banking is a preferred option. At most major casino sites and gaming venues, deposits can be made in Euros. Below is a list of common payment options that you will find in our online casinos for Belgium:

iDebit

Secure bank transfers are important for players in Belgium. iDebit is an online banking processor that facilitates secure transfers directly from your Belgian bank account. It is available in a dozen European countries, including Belgium, so transfers in euros are simple and easy.

Paysafecard

Paysafecard is one of the main prepaid voucher systems that works with gambling sites. When depositing in online casinos, Belgian players can use a simple prepaid voucher to transfer funds to and from. There is no need to use a debit or credit card, and you can withdraw a Paysafecard voucher in a local shop in Brussels or in your own city.

Bancontact

Bancontact is one of the leading electronic payment systems in Belgium. Payments with Bancontact are immediate and processed instantly, which means that you can deposit money and start playing your favourite casino games in no time at all. Online transactions are always protected by 3D-secure, making it a safe banking choice for players.

Belgian laws on gambling in 2020

Currently, gambling in the country is regulated by the Gambling Act of 7 May 1999. However, the law was amended in 2010 to be stricter towards unlicensed operators. It came into practice in 2011.

The key piece of legislation stipulates that in order to obtain a licence to operate an online gambling service, an operator must also have a physical licence. This means that if an operator wishes to offer online casino services to Belgians, it must also do so from licensed premises within the Belgian borders.

The new, tougher 2010 gambling law has not been welcomed by the EU, which has ruled it contrary to free trade laws. In 2010, the European and Betting Association (EBA) and the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) filed complaints with the European Commission.

Gambling in Belgium is regulated by the Belgian Gaming Commission, which publishes a regular list of blacklisted gambling sites. Gamblers can be fined if they are caught gambling against them. Any remote gambling site or casino operating without a licence from the Gaming Commission infringes Belgian law.

However, as is often the case, Belgian online casino operators have found loopholes to be able to provide services in the country without having to build their own physical casinos.

The Bwin example
One such example is bwin.party, an operator initially blacklisted because it only operates as an online casino. In order to circumvent the ban, bwin.party joined forces with Casino Kuursaal Oostende, a land-based casino operator based in Belgium, and obtained a licence to provide online gaming services in this way.

While other operators simply ignore these rules, the Belgian Gaming Commission is not so lax in regulating licences. The black list of companies providing only online casino services is passed on to ISPs and fines are imposed, the largest to date being in the $100,000 range. This may be a change of pocket for some Belgian online casino operators, but it is enough to make them think twice before illegally offering their services in the country.

Some companies have tried to retaliate, including Bet at Home, a Maltese based company that tried to claim that blocking the operator’s domains amounted to illegal data collection. This attempt was quickly rejected as it was however illegal for the domains to exist in Belgium in the first place.

A bigger campaign took place in 2012, when the Financial Times published a letter from a selection of UK bookmakers claiming unfair treatment and ‘intimidation’ via the blacklist. Ironically, the above licence loophole obtained by bwin.party took the momentum from this movement and the campaign faded away. At the time of writing, the blacklist is still in force in Belgium.

Belgian gambling: fines and licences

Although EU trade laws remove barriers to cross-border trade, this does not seem to have filtered through to the Belgian government. Even if a betting site or casino is based in the EU, it must have an eligible licence in Belgium. The number of licences issued is also strictly regulated.

Online licences are limited to 9 A+ casino licences, 180 B+ arcade licences and 34 F1+ betting licences. Only companies holding a « real world » A, B or F1 licence can obtain a licence to offer the same services online, and the law stipulates that there should be no disparity between online and offline services.

A-licences: these allow the main Belgian offline casinos to offer online casino games. In most cases, the casino sites are run in collaboration with existing companies.

A+ licensees, as of February 2018, include major casinos such as the Casino of Spa and Grand Casino Brussels. The nine casino licensees have links to the main existing offshore sites. Indeed, online gaming sites must have a fixed offline establishment within Belgium’s borders.

The Gambling Act leaves little room for ambiguity and stipulates that anyone who « facilitates the operation » of illegal gambling is liable to prosecution. This includes Internet service providers if they allow access to unlicensed websites, media companies if they run advertisements for unlicensed sites and banks if they process financial transactions to unlicensed operations.

Fines of up to €100,000 can be imposed on companies that violate this law. Individuals can be fined up to €25,000 for using unlicensed websites, although this is rare. This makes it extremely difficult for Belgians to access unlicensed sites, although with so many legal options available, one would wonder why anyone would try to access an illegal site anyway.

Licences B: These determine who can operate online slot machines. These are smaller operators throughout Belgium, who also have agreements with .be casino rooms on the web.

License C: This list regulates bingo machines in pubs and cafés where alcohol is served.

F-licences – These licences (F1, F2, F1 +) determine who can operate online sports betting and horse betting services. There are just over 30 in February 2018. This list mainly includes betting shops and sports associations in Belgium. An F1 licence is required to organise betting, while an F2 licence is required if you accept bets. An F1 + licence facilitates online betting.

 

Land gambling options in Belgium

Under the current Belgian Gaming Act, land-based casinos are allowed with the required licence. Brussels and Spa have the best casinos, but at most you will find slot machines and table games.

Slot machines: There is a strict limit of 15 automatic gaming terminals for every table that is open for at least five hours. Casinos have a monopoly on video slots. However, players can enjoy a range of reel slots, video slots and Wheel of Fortune-style machines for real money. Slot machines can also be found in dedicated arcades.

Table games: Familiar and popular games such as roulette, Sic Bo and craps are available in most Belgian casinos. European roulette, commonly known as « La Roulette Anglaise » (English roulette) is available. It plays like traditional European roulette with the rules of La Partage and En Prison of French roulette removed. Layouts are still displayed in French.

Popular casinos: Casino de Spa

Casino de Spa is located in a town known, as you would expect, for its old spa. If you don’t enjoy the spa bath, the casino offers table games, slot machines and poker. Roll’Hit is an interesting local variation that combines roulette and dice. The casino’s gaming room also hosts poker tournaments throughout the week and hosts special events from the Amateur Poker Association & Tour (APAT).

Popular casinos: Grand Casino Brussels Viage

The Grand Casino is located in the city centre of Brussels. Slot machines are the big attraction here. The Grand Casino Brussels Viage has more than 400 machines, including many multi-game terminals such as Novomatic .

The Grand Casino also has a small poker room and in 2017 hosted the DeepStacks Brussels event of the World Poker Tour (WPT). Local and European players paid a buy-in of €1,200 to participate.

As with all land-based and online casinos in Belgium, visitors must be 21 years of age or older to enter and must bring a valid ID card. However, membership of Belgian casinos is free of charge after the first visit.

Sports betting: Under Belgian gaming law, totalizator-type bets are allowed on horse racing in Belgium and abroad. Players can also place bets on fixed-quote markets. Bets can only be placed in licensed betting shops and on horse racing circuits.

There are a few racecourses in Belgium. The Wellington racecourse in Ostend is a coastal track with an adjoining golf course. It hosts flat and harness races. The racecourse is linked to Casino Oostende, a local gambling establishment that hosts bingo events. However, more conventional games such as European roulette, blackjack and Casino Stud Poker can also be played.

Poker: Poker is treated as a game of chance by the Belgian Gaming Commission. As such, like online casinos, Belgium needs a licence to offer Texas Hold’em or Omaha. However, there is an exception under the Gaming and Betting Act 1999, which allows low-stakes card games to be played outside casinos.

Some casinos in Belgium operate small card rooms, such as the Casino de Spa and the Grand Casino in Brussels. The World Poker Tour is one of those organisations that have recently organised live events in Belgium.

Gambling in Belgium at a glance

Population: 11.3 million

Legal age of play: 21 years old

Land Casinos (W / N): Yes

Legal aspects of online casinos (Y / N): Yes

Popular games: slot machines, poker, horse racing, lottery, roulette, etc.

A brief history of gambling in Belgium

1300s – Documents referring to card games date back to the 14th century.

ca. 16th century – The first Belgian lottery is established.

1883 – The Wellington racecourse is built, named after the English Duke of Wellington.

1999 – The Gaming Act of 7 May 1999 is passed. Online casinos must have a partnership with existing land-based operators in order to offer online services. A licensing system is put in place.

2002 – The National Lottery Act is adopted to manage the establishment and management of a new national lottery. Online gambling becomes officially legal.

2009 – Stricter laws are proposed by the Belgian government to ban European online gambling sites operating in Belgium.

2010 – The Belgian Gaming Act of 10 January 2010 amends existing rules and takes a stricter approach to offshore gambling. This follows complaints from the European Gaming and Betting Association (EBA) regarding the free movement of services.

2012 – A conglomerate of UK sports betting and casino operators launches a campaign to close down controversial blacklisted operators that only offer online casino services without a land-based casino branch.

2013 – bwin.party pairs up with a Belgian land-based casino to effectively find a loophole that allows them to offer their online casino games in Belgium. This effectively stops the blacklisting campaign.

2017 – The Belgian Gaming Commission declares that safe deposit boxes in popular video games are a form of gambling.

2019 – A new law is passed, limiting player deposits in Belgian online casinos to €500 per week.

2020 – The Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) approves the Responsible Advertising Code published by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).

 

Find the best online casinos in Belgium

It is important for Belgians to trust the best range of legal online casinos. Belgium is more regulated than most countries in the eurozone when it comes to gambling. However, this means that fans of slot machines and table games can find legitimate and safe places to play.

With the blacklist working as it does, and the strict regulations and licensing laws, the majority, if not all, of the online casinos allowed to operate in Belgium are trustworthy. Those that are not trustworthy and operate illegally in the country are likely to end up on the blacklist.

Can I play online in Belgium?

Online gambling is completely legal in Belgium . In fact, it is one of the safest places to play because of the strict licensing laws and regulations. While online casino operators do not like the blacklisting and the treatment received from the Belgian Gaming Commission, these regulations create a safer space for players. Since the Gambling Act 2012, the Belgian authorities have repeatedly stated that player protection is the top priority, which certainly benefits the country’s online casino players.

What kind of bonuses can I get at a Belgian online casino?

Online casinos in Belgium offer a range of exciting promotions and bonuses for new and existing players. New players at a casino site can expect a deposit match bonus and sometimes a no-deposit bonus is offered, allowing Belgian players to try out the site before depositing money.