This post is part of a series about European Poker Regulation
Poker is legal in Belgium, but the picture isn’t rosy. The taxation is relatively high, brands must have a local presence in order to offer play, and players are restricted to playing locally with a small player pool (the country only has about 11 million citizens). If you’re playing poker in Belgium you better be playing in small secure clubs, online poker regulation must change, and we believe it will, to justify playing poker online for anything but fun.
Belgian poker law
The government in Belgium is very proactive about protecting its citizens from dangerous gambling habits and enforces many strict regulations in terms of loss management that are not found elsewhere. This of course hurts the rooms significantly as players are forced to stop playing past a certain threshold whether they are keeping their cool or not. The Belgians are also very proactive in persecuting grey market rooms and their players, dedicating significant resources to finding illegal activity. Poker players in Belgium that break the law are subject to an unbelievable fine of €150,000 and 3 years in prison.
Belgium poker future
There are some harsh news coming from Belgium in terms of the industry, in late 2014 there was a big outcry as the government taxed the top 20 players 75% for their winnings. The only ray of sunshine, and it is a questionable ray, is that brands operating in the country continue to miss the mark in terms of profit and Belgium is suffering in terms of tax proceeds relative to its neighbors in the EU. It is possible that a tax conscious government will step in the coming years and update gambling & poker regulation to remove barriers that prevent the country from increasing its tax revenue. We can only hope for a better regulation future in Belgium, as Belgian players can be sick on the felt and it’s a shame that they are prevented the opportunity to compete globally with the rest of us.
Still want to play online in Belgium? Try out pokerstars.be, the only room with a decent pool of players whose pockets you can empty at a pace higher than rake will eat up your roll.