Belgium is the home of the EU headquarters, and the country has been known as a hotspot for culture and commerce ever since the Middle Ages. Along with all the cultural activities, gambling in the form of lottery and card games has been documented as early as 1300. The first national lottery was up and running by the 15th century; nowadays, online sports betting in Belgium is legal.
Legal Considerations of Online Sports Betting Belgium
Online sports betting and gambling are legal in Belgium starting with 2011, unlike in many other European nations where gambling is still forbidden or at least frowned upon. Many people argue that Belgium – being the host of the European Union – had played a massive role in the legalization of sports betting and gambling in general since they had to set an example for other partner countries in the EU. Regarding free trade, competitive marketplace and citizen freedom, this example is exceptionally welcome. Of course, not everyone in the country shares the same view regarding online sports betting. However, things are kept in balance through the Belgian Gambling Act.
This official act that plays the role of the gambling law in Belgium states that any operator that wishes to run an online sports betting website also needs to have the license for a land based operation within the country. Besides that, there is a limit on how many new licenses can be offered, and that makes it extremely difficult for foreign operators to get access to the Belgian market.
However, since the big betting companies are always eager to find loopholes in the gambling legislation of any country, there are some examples of big online operators that managed to break the ice in Belgium. Bwin is one of the first online sports betting Belgium-operating sites that was initially black-listed for operating only online, but through a partnership with Kursaal Oostende NV, they were allowed to get a license.
The Famous Blacklist
To combat all the companies that wanted access to the Belgium sports betting market without a license, the Belgian government started to put together a blacklist. This list contained the names of all companies that ever tried to breach the Belgian online sports betting environment. The measure against them was to get the ISP providers to block access to any name on the blacklist. The fine for trying to offer online sports betting services to Belgian players is around € 100.000 and any player that uses such services can also expect a bill of up to € 25.000.
Many UK-based bookmakers complained about the use of this blacklist as a form of intimidation and even said it could be viewed as illegal data collection. However, their movement did not get any momentum since bwin obtained a license. Also, trying to breach the online sports betting Belgium market was also illegal.
Online Sports Betting Belgium – Statistics
With all the back and forth between big online operators wanting a share of the Belgium market and because of the strict regulation imposed by the Government, online gambling has an important place in the country’s tax revenue.
Online sports betting and gambling is responsible for a third of the total licensed gambling market. With a total revenue coming from online sports betting Belgium-operating sites of € 305 million out of €683 million in total, nobody can deny the importance of online sports betting. Furthermore, the same numbers show a decrease in land-based betting activity while the land-based operators that also started an online business showed increases of up to 50%.
The Belgian Gaming Commission, unlike many of the European regulatory bodies of the gambling industry, keeps a close eye on Belgian players. They are among the only ones to impose fines for players that are accessing services of unauthorized operators while also taking care of periodic surveys to find out about their preferences.
These surveys showed an increasing trend among young players, aged 24 – 35, to access online gambling sites at least twice per month. The growth was of 15% compared to the previous year, and not surprisingly, 78% of the people in this category are males.
Best Online Sports Betting Sites in Belgium
We already mentioned how difficult it is for an external operator to receive an online sports betting license in Belgium. This sole strictness should guarantee that any provider being allowed to operate in this country will deliver high-quality services. However, since we want our readers to have access to the very best sports betting sites, we made this top 3 for you.
Being the first big online operator able to offer their services legally in Belgium, bwin enjoys a vast player base in Belgium since they come with an improved experience compared with the local online sports betting sites.
- Solid welcome offer
- Diverse betting markets
- Occasional free bets
- Doesn’t have any virtual sports betting
Unibet, another big name in the online sports betting environment, managed to penetrate the Belgian market a lot later than bwin. Since then, they are trying to put up a fight with them, and this only comes for the benefit of players that can enjoy better offers and more diverse betting options.
- Cashout option
- Competitive live betting odds
- Profit boosters
- The accumulator choices are limited to 12