BELGIUM: Gaming Commission pleads for less bricks-and-mortar establishments

Belgian media today report on the Belgian Gaming Commission’s (BGC) call for less land-based arcades and betting shops. Arcades (as opposed to casinos) are allowed to offer a specific number of automated casino-styled games to which certain restrictions on maximum winnings and losses apply. Betting shops are establishments in which bets are offered to the public. Both require a license from the BGC to operate legally.

Under current regulations (Games of Chance Act of 7 May 1999 and its execution orders), the BGC can issue a license to a maximum of 180 arcades (currently 179 licenses have been attributed) and 1.000 betting shops (of which around 600 licenses have currently been attributed). To be clear, the licenses for betting shops are different from the 35 licenses attributed to the actual betting operators (including the National Lottery) organizing the bets.

Those numbers of maximum licenses should be reduced, the BGC has said. The BGC has reportedly pleaded to reduce the number of arcades to a maximum of 150 by 2017, whilst the number of betting shops should be limited to 600. The reason for this, according to the BGC, is the threat to the economic livability of many of the bricks-and-mortar establishments, caused by both stringent regulations and the increasing success of the online gambling offering. Consequently, the BGC also pleads for a more stringent monitoring of the solvability and profitability of land-based operators who risk to lose their license in case the minimum ratios are not met.

It remains to be seen how the market will react to this announcement and whether the proposal of the Commission will be followed on the political level.

For more information, please contact Patrick.vanEecke@dlapiper.com or Antoon.Dierick@dlapiper.com