Belgium: Gaming Commission pleads for access to State Register

Patrick Van Eecke and Antoon Dierick (both DLA Piper Brussels) comment on the Belgian Gaming Commission’s announcement in today’s newspapers that it should be granted access to the State Register in order to fight against participation in games of chance by excluded persons.

By Patrick Van Eecke and Antoon Dierick

Under Belgian law (article 54 Belgian Gaming Act and the Royal Decree of 15 December 2004), several categories of protected persons are excluded from participation in games of chance for which a registration obligation is necessary (e.g. casino and betting services). A first category are those persons who themselves have requested to be excluded. Automatically excluded are persons in a state of prolonged incapability and persons who have been excluded to perform certain professions.

Since the change of law in 2010, two new categories of persons have been added to this list, namely: persons with a gambling addiction (this request can be introduced by each interested party, e.g. a partner or the children of the person in question), and persons who have been allowed to the regime of composition with creditors.

All these categories are added in the Excluded Persons Information System (“EPIS”), which has been established within the Federal Public Service of Justice and which must be consulted by the operators of games of chance when allowing persons to play.

The Gaming Commission announced today that more than 200.000 persons are registered in EPIS. According to the Commission, each month 300 persons request to be added to EPIS on their own initiative. Rarely, persons belonging to the social environment of the person in question file such a request. The Gaming Commission stated to be pleased with this system, but also warned that excesses are still possible. In one case for example, a person had created more than three hundred accounts to be able to continue to play notwithstanding his exclusion.

To be able to step up the fight against these excesses, the Commission has pleaded for access to the Belgian State Register which mainly holds information on persons registered in the Belgian population registers. However, this poses certain legal questions, especially from a privacy law point of view. In particular, the question arises whether a valid legal basis can be invoked to share this personal information with the Commission. Access to the State Register is also only possible under strict legal conditions, hence would need a change of law. It will be very interesting to follow whether the legislator will grant the Commission such possibility and under which conditions.

For more information, please contact patrick.van.eecke@dlapiper.com or antoon.dierick@dlapiper.com