Belgium Broadens Clampdown On Online Gaming Sites

Belgium Broadens Clampdown On Online Gaming SitesBelgium appears set to broaden its clampdown on online gambling after the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) requested that sites offering free gaming apps for mobile devices should be included in a proposed social gaming operator blacklist.
The Western European country already has a real-money online gambling blacklist, which over the past four years has grown to almost 100 companies, including such major poker operators as Everest, Titan, 888, William Hill, Betfair, PKR. A number of social gaming firms providing free apps have also found themselves on the list, but if the new proposal goes ahead then they will be transferred over to the second blacklist, where other such companies are sure to follow.
According to the Belgian Gaming Commission, such “play-for-fun” apps, especially those promoting poker and casino games, make it extremely difficult for the industry to monitor the age of players involved and so could lead to underage gambling and addiction. One such example appeared in National Belgium newspaper ‘Het Nieuwsblad’ just a few days ago, in which a 15 year-old boy spent €37,000 ($46,000) on his mother’s credit card playing a free-to-play app called ‘Game of War: Fire Age’.
In Britain, similar stories have been reported and in February this year the UK Office of Fair Trading felt it necessary to release a new guidelines for those operators offering free-to-play game applications. As the watchdog explained at the time:
“Following our market investigation in 2013, we had concerns that there were industry-wide practices that were potentially misleading, commercially aggressive or otherwise unfair.”
In addition to the social gaming operator blacklist, the Belgian Gaming Commission has warned the country’s poker players it will soon introduce a 75% tax on their winnings. However, the tax law will only target the country’s elite players, while those players will have their professions recognized and will then be able to claim legitimate business expenses. As an official statement, read:
“An individual who plays poker regularly and who devotes enough time and efforts to the game to make it a profession should declare his winnings as if they were any other form of professional income.”

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