According to a British study, 5.3 billion Belgian gambling money goes to private players on the market. Of course, part of it flows back to the winners as a profit. Still, it’s an impressive turnover figure, which says a lot about the impact of the gambling industry. Because this turnover only comes from traders and companies with a license. In addition, there are still many illegal offices and sites. Jannie Haek, CEO of the National Lottery, previously spoke of proliferation and Far West situations.
The famous figure comes from a study by Gambling Compliance, an international organization that groups the most legal gambling traders. Some country works with permits issued by the Gaming Commission to be able to offer gambling activities. The committee distinguishes different types. There are 9 recognized casinos, 180 slot machine halls, and several thousand bingo machines, the latter mainly in cafés. In addition, there are several recognized betting organizers such as bookmakers, betting offices, newsagents, and racing clubs. There is also a separate license for organizing phone games in the media. But these are no longer offered in Flanders, but they are in Wallonia. The licensees must comply with a number of conditions, otherwise, they could lose their license. For example, access to a casino is limited to registered players from the age of 21. The same conditions apply to slot machine arcades. Licensed cafés can place up to 2 bingo machines and use is only possible from the age of 18 with an electronic identity card. That age also applies to gambling through all recognized betting offices and sites.
Because games of chance fall under criminal law, not only the providers or organizers of betting can be prosecuted for infringements, but also the players who do not meet the conditions risk fines. But of course, the problem fans out much further because the discussion is also about illegal sites, which are widely gambled on. On the one hand, they escape control. On the other hand, the games of the chance committee itself have made an inventory of a blacklist. The 102 gambling sites on the list have been blocked for use from Belgium. Of course, these are far from all sites and a lot of gambling money also flows directly abroad. In compiling this blacklist, the Gaming Commission is concentrating on sites that consciously try to appeal to an audience in some countries, for example by also offering its products in Dutch. Foreign betting offices, such as Ladbrokes and Unibet, can also get a license in some countries, provided they have a server here. For example, the domain name .be is mandatory. In this way, the Belgian regulator exercises control over the money flows with those foreign operators and prevents the proceeds from those offices from disappearing directly abroad, read tax-havens. The only question is to what extent this is mopping with the tap open.
National Lottery clashes with the private gambling market
The National Lottery itself has a turnover of 1.2 billion. This is in addition to the 5.3 billion of the private operators. In addition to lottery games (Lotto, Euromillions, all kinds of scratch tickets), the National Lottery itself also offers bets. Just think of sports betting via Score. The National Lottery also has a license for this from the Gaming Commission. For the lottery games, it has received a monopoly from the government through a management agreement. Topman Jannie Haek goes head-on against that gaming commission. He blames her for a much too lax policy because just about anyone can obtain a permit and the access conditions for users are hardly checked. He also blames the government for the fact that the law on games of chance still has no implementing decrees, which makes conclusive regulations almost impossible in any case. Remarkably, the games of chance commission acknowledge this criticism and confirm that it can only apply the applicable rules in its control task. Haek does not shy away from harsh words. He calls Belgium, among other things, the Far West of online gambling. Furthermore, the National Lottery points to the difference in so-called return for society. The Lottery itself is bound by its management agreement with the government. This stipulates that in exchange for a monopoly position in the lottery games, she must deposit 320 million annually in the federal treasury. These are monopoly rights (135 million) and compulsory subsidies to social, cultural, and sports initiatives (185 million). To be clear, it’s not about the sponsorship deals. The National Lottery makes its own decisions about this. According to the Gambling Compliance study, private operators pay only 120 million in taxes, which go to the Regions. The National Lottery, therefore, likes to speak of reinvestment for its activities.