Belgium is one of Europe’s smaller countries. Sharing borders with the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France, the country has plenty in common with ease of these nations. However, its gambling laws are its own, and to any player based out of Belgium, the laws of the land may seem strict, overly so. If you are thinking about betting online in Belgium, there are certain things you are going to want to be made aware of. What can Belgians gamble on? What types of casinos can they play at, and are there any punishments for visiting offshore and foreign sites? Will aim to reveal all right here.
An Overview of Gambling in Belgium
Belgium takes a hard line when it comes to online gambling. However, players need not be too dismayed. The European nation has legalised online gaming to a degree, even if there are several restrictions concerning what you can and cannot get away with.
Gambling online is legal in Belgium for all players who are aged 21 or older. The current Belgian gambling laws date back to 2011 and are unquestionably messy. Belgium has several different gambling licenses available, depending on the type of service an operator wishes to offer. Since the change in the laws, all operators catering to players in Belgium must have obtained a gambling license from the Belgian Gambling Commission, known locally as the Kansspelcommissie in Flemish, and Commission de Jeux de Hasard in French.
Belgians are permitted to play in any of the ten or so land-based casinos scattered throughout the country. They are also eligible to play at any online casinos which feature licenses issued by the commission. There are not too many of these. Poker is popular in the country, and although there are no official laws governing the game, poker sites are considered legal.
Lottery games fall under the Lotteries Act and the Federal Act of 2002. These dated laws ensure that lotteries games are legal, both online and offline. Bingo is defined as a table game in Belgium, and thus it is available at all casinos (online or otherwise) which have obtained a license to provide table games to players. What about sports betting? Under Belgian law, high-street bookies are permitted to offer sports bets if licensed, and the same is true for online sportsbooks.
About Belgian Offshore Casinos
Belgium takes a hard line when it comes to offshore casinos. Each commune’s police force takes action to force ISPs (internet service providers) to shut off access to any foreign sites they come across. Belgium has an official blacklist of domains which are not permitted to offer their gambling services to players in the country, and the list is extensive.
Because Belgium actively blocks all access to offshore casinos, Belgians are required to use a VPN (virtual private network) if they wish to play at those domains. Some of the poorer VPNs will be unable to break the geo-block restrictions in place, but a semi-decent one can. Belgium actively fines operators who provide gambling services to Belgians without a licensed from the Belgian Gambling Commission. The country’s gambling authorities are not believed to crack down on individual players who take advantage of these services, although the “STOP” warning followed by the police force’s logo is enough to frighten many players.
Belgium’s Most Played Casino Games
Because of the nature of Belgian gambling licenses, players will often struggle to find licensed domains which offer several different types of games. This would involve holding several different licenses at the same time. As each gambling license is costly, most internet betting sites in Belgium tend to specialise in specific games. There are notable exceptions, of course, such as the biggest and most prominent operators in the world, who can easily afford such licenses.
These are the gambling games you can expect to find at Belgian domains:
Slots: Slot machines are widespread at Belgian online casinos. These games typically come from smaller-scale providers, and not the major developers such as Microgaming or Net Entertainment. A few home-grown operators also dish out titles to players in Belgium, which makes some of these casinos’ games rather unique.
Dice Games: Dice games are hugely popular in the European Union country. These are not games such as craps and sic bo. Instead, they are dice slots, which is a concept seldom found outside of the country. Popular with players across Belgium, they can be found in virtually all major sites.
Table Games: Belgian casinos do carry table games, although the array of titles you can choose from is not likely to be as extensive as you will find at other leading casinos. You are likely to find one or two variants of roulette, blackjack, and baccarat, but the more obscure table games are less likely to spring up at Belgian casinos. Expect both low and high-limit games to be available, too.
Live Dealer Casino Games: Only a handful of Belgian online casinos currently offer live dealer casino games. In most cases, these will be provided by the smaller developers, and not the most recognisable brands. There are always exceptions to be found, though.
Poker Games: Poker games are popular in Belgium. While it is possible to find a few RNG (random number generator) based poker games up for grabs at online casinos, you will find proper tournaments and games more commonplace at poker rooms. These online poker rooms seldom offer other types of casino games.
Lottery, Keno and Bingo: Sites which offer lottery games are not permitted to provide other forms of gambling games unless licensed to do so. Keno and bingo games are both considered to be table games in Belgium, so can be found in instant win format at a fair few Belgian online casinos.
Sports Betting: Sports betting is licensed and regulated in the European country. These online bookies may carry casino games, too. It is typically only the larger, more renowned sites which do so. Smaller Belgian bookies are unlikely to cough up for a typical gaming license, so do not expect to find too many offering typical casino games.
Taxes on Big Wins at Belgian Casinos
The tax situation for Belgians is relatively straightforward. The state does not charge taxes on any winnings you acquire from lotteries, sports betting, poker, or gambling games. However, if you were to land a sizeable win, you might find yourself liable to pay income tax on the interest you earn from those winnings.
The same is not true for gambling companies. Operators must fork out notable fees to obtain gambling licenses in Belgium. As there are several licenses, these fees soon add up. On top of that, operators in the Belgian gambling market must also pay tax on revenue made from players in the country.
The Best Belgian Online Casinos to Join Today
Belgian players are strongly advised to play at Belgian Gambling Commission licensed casinos. However, it is not a mandatory requirement. Although it is difficult to get access to an offshore or foreign casino without a decent VPN, it is certainly not impossible. Many Belgians choose to do this, on account of the Belgian authorities not punishing them for doing so.
Whether you decide to play at an offshore casino, or a locally licensed one, the things you should look for in a top Belgian casino remain the same. These include:
Belgian-Friendly Bonuses: Belgian online casinos are quite strict when it comes to promotions and bonuses. Operators must jump through hoops to ensure that they do not have restrictive terms and conditions on their offers, and this makes them worth much less than at offshore casinos. Naturally, many Belgian players, therefore, prefer to play at foreign sites. If you do so, make sure that any bonus you are thinking of claiming can be snapped up by Belgians, as not all can.
French and Flemish Language Gameplay: Belgium is home to three official languages in French, Flemish (Dutch) and German. The latter is spoken by a small number of players. English is also widely spoken in the country. Any online casino you are thinking of joining should offer gameplay in at least French and Dutch, if not the other two.
The Euro Currency: Belgium is a member of the European Union and the Euro Zone. Therefore, any casino you opt to play at should accept the euro currency. If not, you could find yourself subject to charges for converting deposits and withdrawals.
Belgian Payment Methods: Belgians like using MisterCash and Bancontact to deposit and wager. These two favoured methods are popular whatever a Belgian may wish to spend money on. With that in mind, any casino offering their services to Belgians would do well to carry them. On top of that, Belgian casinos will typically offer a range of card-based options, but e-wallet deposit methods are rare in Belgian Gambling Commission licensed sites.
Your Favourite Games: As mentioned, there are various licenses for numerous games. You will want to ensure that you are playing at a site which carries several licenses. This way, the Belgian online casino can provide you with access to several games. Naturally, this is not likely to be so much of an issue at offshore casino domains.
Reliable Support Options: Belgians rely on phone support quite frequently for other things, so a decent online casino will also offer this method of support for free, and in French and Dutch at the very least. On top of that, Belgian casinos should also provide live chat and e-mail support. This may be on a 24/7 basis, but that varies from site to site.
Fast Cashout Times: If you are playing at a Belgian licensed casino, the odds are good that you will be able to cash out your winnings rather rapidly. However, offshore casinos may be much slower at processing these transactions, and that is something worth bearing in mind.
Belgians, as we have said, have two vastly different ways that they can play online. They can opt to play at Belgian Gambling Commission licensed sites, but these are few and far between and often quite heavily regulated. Alternatively, they might choose to play at offshore casinos, which have a far more extensive selection of games, but you may have to jump through hoops via VPNs to play there. Ultimately, there are numerous examples of both which represent the best casinos for Belgian players, so the choice is yours.