Belgian regulator ramps up land-based sanctions in 2019

The number of sanctions issued for compliance failures in the Belgian land-based gambling sector by the country's Gaming Commission increased to 52 in 2019, though the number of outlets punished with licences being revoked fell year-on-year.


The regulator’s 52 sanctions, up 20.9%, resulted in licence revocations, four licence suspensions, two warnings, 28 fines worth a combined €82,916 and seven other sanctions. This followed 353 inspections on licensed and unlicensed premises during the year.

The majority of these inspections, 183, were at cafes which hold gaming licences, while 61 were of newsagents authorised to offer gambling services. A further 65 inspections were carried out on betting shops; 24 at slot arcades;11 at casinos and eight at illegal gambling establishments.

Of these 353 inspections, 252 occurred in Flanders, 54 in Wallonia and 57 in Brussels.

The Commission approved 1,372 gambling licences for cafés during the year, up 30.2%, though the number of premises to have applications rejected almost doubled to 65. The year also saw licences renewed for 31 slot halls and casinos in Namen and Brussels. No new betting shop licences were issued or renewed.

The total number of players to self-exclude via the national EPIS scheme grew 9.0% to 35,390, while the number excluded because of a request from someone else was up 25.8% to 643. In 2019, exclusions were extended to retail betting as well as online.

In addition, 100,628 players were automatically excluded due to debts; 166,057 based on criminal charges, and 57,927 because of their professions.

The Commission’s SOS Jeux problem gambling helpline received 3,494 calls in 2019, down 20% from 2018.

The operator also announced revenue figures from 2018. Overall gross revenue across all products and channels declined 5.2% to €316.3m.

Casinos in the country, both online and land-based, took in a total GGR of €281.2m, up 4.1% year-on-year. Of this total, €172.7m came from the online sector, up 17.0%, and €108.5m from land-based, up 1.0%.

While revenue from casinos im Knokke, Middelkerke, Namen, Spa and Chaudfontaine declined, revenue from those in Ostend, Blankenberge and Brussel increased.

In terms of online casino revenue, Ardent Group's Casino de Spa brought in the most, at €42.5m. The BetConstruct-powered site, operating under Golden Palace Blankenberge's licence, followed with €31.5m, while Namur - another Ardent Group-owned brand - brought in €26.6m and Casino Knokke, owned by Napoleon Games, €21.1m.

This year, the Belgian Gaming Commission has continued efforts to limit unlicensed online gambling, adding three more websites to its blacklist of online gambling operators earlier this month, following three that were added in July.