Belgium Considers Nationalizing Online Poker Industry

Belgian newspaper De Standaard recently printed an article stating the government was on the brink of altering its gambling laws, so that all foreign internet poker sites would be blocked by the Belgium internet service providers, thus effectively nationalizing the whole of the domestic market.
This is not the first time the country has considered such a move, but it has always been deterred from its plans by European Union opposition, who insists that such an action would be in violation of EU fair trade laws. In fact, an order was issued by the EU in June of 2009 stating exactly that, and so Belgium’s move would be considered a direct defiance of that order.
If Belgium moves ahead with its plan, the legality of all online poker sites within Belgium would be dependent on them being physically located within the country’s borders and obtaining a licence from the Belgium government.
The move would not be considered welcome news by many players in the Belgium poker community, who would then be unable to play on such leading sites as PokerStars, PartyPoker and Full Tilt Poker, and be forced to play only against domestic competitors.
Two Plus Two forum members have been having their say on the matter, with “Droschopf” stating, “Nationalization of gambling environments and…the separation of player pools are real dangers for professional poker players in small European countries.” Another poster, by the name of “Sjors,” comments, “I’m fine with regulating but don’t cut off the world. Playing against people on the other side of the globe and having traffic around the clock is what makes online poker great.”
The Belgium government decision to move ahead with the plan also highlights inconsistency in EU laws which has permitted Italy to nationalize its online gambling operations, while countries like Belgium and France have been strongly deterred in, the past, from doing so. Maybe the Belgium move might now force the EU to reach an across the board consensus on uniformly regulating the whole online gaming industry in Europe.

Other news:   Multi-state online poker compact bill introduced in Pennsylvania

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