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Gambling in Belgium

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Belgian legislation is essentially based on the law of 7 May 1999 (1) lays down the principle of prohibition of gambling and in fact fundamentally based on the principle of protection of the player. Upon adoption of this law, the Belgian legislator first wanted to reflect the pathological aspect associated with this activity. The legislator also wanted to fight a series of side effects considered by the Belgian legislator as “negative effects” including crime and financial fraud.

Act of 7 May 1999 did not apply to paris committed during sports games or lotteries. These are subject to special laws, including the Law of 31 December 1851 on lotteries (2), the Act of 26 June 1963 on the promotion of physical education, sport participation and outdoor life and the control of companies that organize competitions paris on the results of sporting events (3), the Act of 19 April 2002 on streamlining the operation and management of the National Lottery (4 ). However, it follows from the judgment No. 33/2004 of 10.03.2004 of the Belgian Court of Arbitration that all games of chance offered by the National Lottery will be subject to the full application of the 1999 law and a license must be obtained from the Gambling Commission when the National Lottery intends to offer games of chance in gaming establishments, ie any place where gambling is offered to the public

The various laws aim to develop a pipeline system: the games are prohibited in principle but may be exceptionally admitted after authorization by the competent authority. Regarding the operation of games of chance in casinos and gaming rooms, the Act of May 7, 1999 fixed a quota of casinos or gambling halls that can be dismissed. An authorization scheme by public authorities is also provided for the organization of competitions paris on sporting results other than horse racing. Section 1 of the Act of June 26, 1963 submitted these games to authorization of Ministers in charge of physical education and sport. In addition, the organization of paris on horse racing is also subject to prior authorization by public authorities, namely the Minister of Finance; horseracing are governed by the provisions of Article 66 of the Codes taxes assimilated to income taxes (CTA). Authorizations are granted conditional duration, sampling and control of the state or community. Belgium has also granted a monopoly to the National Lottery for the organization of public lotteries. In addition, Article 7 of the Law of 19 April 2002 states that “The activities referred to in Article 6 § 1, 1 ° to 4 °, are public service tasks. The National Lottery has a monopoly on the service referred to in Article 6 § 1, 1 °, and the right to the services referred to in Article 6 § 1, 1 °, 2 ° and 3 °, to use tools of the information society. ” (5)

The Arbitration Court considers that when an activity is a danger to society if it is not subject to conditions, the legislator is an appropriate measure in bringing this activity to rules derogating from the rules applicable to ordinary business . Therefore, grant an exclusive right to the National Lottery or impose a quota casinos or gambling halls is not considered discriminatory or disproportionate to the objective pursued, namely the protection of the public interest. (6)

Violations of laws and regulations on lotteries, gambling houses and pawnbroking are sanctioned by articles 301 to 308 and Article 557, 3 ° of the Belgian Criminal Code. Infringements of the provisions of the Act of 7 May 1999 on games of chance, gambling establishments and the protection of the players are sanctioned by articles 63 to 70 of this Act.

At the request of the Belgian Ministry of Justice and in anticipation of a possible revision of certain aspects of the Belgian legislation on gambling, researchers at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) analyzed the Belgian legislation on gambling chance. (7) The main objective of the study was to define the contours of the concept of “gambling” as set out in the Act of 7 May 1999. Second, the study focuses on the interaction between the various legislative instruments of gambling and tasks currently assigned to the Gaming Commission. The study was published for the department concerned in December 2005 and subsequently distributed to the general public.

(1) Belgian Official Gazette (hereinafter: “MB”) 12.30.1999
(2) M.B. 07/01/1852.
(3) M.B. 25.12.1963.
(4) M.B. 05.04.2002.
(5) In its judgment of 10 March 2004, No. 33/2004, the Arbitration Court, however, held that “the law” for the National Lottery to organize games of chance via the tools of the Society information is in the current state of Belgian law, a monopoly. V. No. B 2.4 of the judgment: “With regard to Article 7, it should be noted that this article was amended by section 490 of the Programme Law of 24 December 2002 and therefore The National Lottery has no longer a monopoly, but only the right to organize games of chance via the “tools of the information society.” The Council of Ministers and the National Lottery says that with this amendment, the applicants in Case No. 2555 have more interest in their action for annulment of that article. Under section 4 of the Act of 7 May 1999 on games of chance, gambling operators in the private sector are not allowed to offer the public games of chance via the “tools of the society information “. Indeed, the general principle of the law on gambling is to prohibit the use, in any place, in any form and in any manner directly or indirectly whatsoever, one or more games of chance or gambling establishments (Doc. parl., Senate, 1997-1998, No. 1-419/1, p. 2, No. 1-419/4, p. 25). It échait therefore clear that if the law of gambling does not explicitly organizing games of chance via the “tools of the information society”, these gambling can not be regarded as authorized. It follows from this that the “right” granted to the National Lottery is a monopoly in this case (…). “
(6) See the judgments of the Court of Arbitration of 10 March 2004, No. 33/2004, 18 February 1993, No. 12/93, 13 July 2001, No. 100/01, available on the website- Court’s web: http://www.arbitrage.be.
(7) V N. Hoeckx, K. ANDRIES and N. Carette, Kansspel: Juridisch gedefinieerd – beleidsmatig geoperationaliseerd. Juridische analysis een van het Definitie van de wet van kansspel volgens 7 mei 1999 op kansspelen of kansspelinrichtingen into bescherming van spelers, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2005, viii + 391 pages.

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