Snapshot: Remote Gambling in Belgium

June 8, 2023 | Online Gaming

BELGIUM (June 2, 2023) — Remote gambling


Is remote gambling permitted and, if so, what types?

Classes A, B and F1 licence holders can acquire an additional ‘plus’ licence that permits them to offer their land-based products remotely. This includes online or mobile gambling.

Online gambling is, from a regulatory perspective, considered an additional distribution channel for certain licensed operators rather than a separate market. The laws do not preclude licensed operators from cooperating with third parties for their online activities. It is common practice for casino operators (ie, land-based licence holders) to enter into a cooperation agreement with a specialised online gambling operator. As a result, the online gambling website of any of the nine Belgian casinos can be that of an international online gambling brand.


What are the criteria for obtaining a licence to operate remote gambling?

To obtain a class A+, B+ or F+ licence, the land-based operator must first hold a class A, B or F1 licence, respectively. The licence holder must be able to demonstrate a solvency rate of 40 per cent, guarantee a safe payment system and have a policy to avoid targeting vulnerable groups, along with further requirements.

How do the licensing criteria for remote gambling operators differ from those applicable to land-based operators?

The same criteria apply to remote gambling as to land-based gambling owing to the licence-plus system, but with certain additional requirements to allow operators to engage in online activities, such as quality requirements (eg, creditworthiness of the applicant and money transaction safety) and technical specification on how to offer those games.

Cross-border gambling

May operators located in other countries offer internet gambling to consumers in your jurisdiction without obtaining a licence there?

No. As in any EU territory, there is no mutual recognition for gambling, and operators licensed in other member states cannot offer gambling in Belgium without first acquiring the necessary licence. Operators established outside the European Economic Area are not eligible to acquire a licence in Belgium.

May operators licensed in your jurisdiction offer internet gambling to consumers in other countries?

In principle, yes. Limitations applicable in those countries would then apply to the operator established in Belgium.


What tax rate applies to each form of remote gambling?

Gambling taxation is a regional competence. This creates tension with the regulation of gambling itself, which is a federal matter. The federal government has tried to impose value added tax on online gambling, but this attempt was annulled by the Constitutional Court for being in breach of the competencies of the regions as the value added tax would diminish the taxable base of actual gambling taxation.

In theory, there could be differences between the regions (Flemish, Walloon and Brussels-Capital) in terms of remote gambling taxation. In practice, that would be unworkable as the competent region is where the gaming server is established, which would make it relatively easy for operators to switch to the most favourable tax regime. The three regions, therefore, align their online gambling tax laws.

Remote gambling is taxed at 11 per cent of gross gaming revenue.

By: Philippe Vlaemminck and Robbe Verbeke

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SOURCES: Vlaemminck.lawLexology.

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