In Belgium and the Constitutional Court has reportedly affirmed an earlier ruling to annul a section of the nation’s Gambling Act of 1999 and prohibit locally-licensed iGaming operators from offering sportsbetting and online casino games via the same domain.
According to a Monday report from iGamingBusiness.com, the ruling from the nation’s highest court for constitutional matters was largely a ceremonial affair after the government of former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel inserted such a prohibition into the Gambling Act two years ago. The source detailed that this alteration had subsequently led to the Betway.be service from operator Casinos Austria International losing its license for concurrently offering both sports wagering and online casino entertainment.
The Constitutional Court ruling reportedly comes after the Brussels Court of Appeal contentiously ruled in 2017 that different types of gaming entertainment should be allowed via the same domain. However, local arcade operator Rocoluc NV purportedly appealed this decision successfully a year later by claiming that such a state of affairs would result in iGaming firms being presented with an unfair advantage in relation to their land-based counterparts.
The source detailed that the 2018 Constitutional Court decision in favor of Rocoluc NV then itself became the subject of an appeal lodged by the nation’s Council of Ministers utilizing an assertion that it had been ‘based on an erroneous understanding of the legal context in question’. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) trade group later purportedly joined this fight on the side of the state and helped to argue that the ruling was unfair because land-based casino operators in Belgium were permitted to offer multiple forms of gambling at one physical venue.
The Council of Ministers, which is the executive organ of Belgium’s government, moreover reportedly contended that online domain names and physical gambling establishments were not analogous with the most appropriate equivalent to a land-based venue being a URL. Therefore, it purportedly insisted that iGaming firms should be permitted to offer a wide range of gambling entertainment via the same web address.
Meanwhile, Roculuc NV reportedly maintained that the Constitutional Court had already made its decision in the matter and was simply being pressured by the more conservative government of current Prime Minister Alexander De Croo into changing its stance without any new evidence. In the end and the twelve-member court purportedly rejected the appeal by proclaiming that ‘contrary to what the Council of Ministers maintains, the operation of betting in a Class One establishment would be contrary to’ Belgian law.