Online poker markets continue to expand all over the world and as the game grows in popularity, the illegal online poker market also continues to gain momentum. These unregistered poker websites operate in just about every country and do their best to avoid detection by the authorities.
Online poker players realize the risks involved when they signup at these unlicensed poker websites but continue to do so because there are higher payouts, no taxes and a lot more competition. Belgium recently decided to crackdown on one such website when it targeted the Betclic Everest website. The website does not have a license to operate in Belgium and has been on Belgium’s national gaming commission (BGC) radar for quite some time.
The BGC recently decided to impose fines on 79 online poker players who were caught playing online cash games on the Betclic Everest’s dot.com website. The Betclic Everest website offers players a number of games ranging from online poker, casino games and sports betting. This is not the first time that Betclic Everest has been targeted by the BGC.
During the early part of 2014, the BGC froze around EUR600,000 in player funds because the Betclic Everest website was not legalized to operate in Belgium. The company released a statement stating that it was surprised by the action initiative by the BGC and promised to fix all outstanding issues at the earliest. It is not clear what changes Betclic Everest has made since then but has continued to be a target for the BGC.
The BGC has imposed a EUR200 fine on each of the 79 players and has confirmed that a detailed analysis would be conducted on all player accounts. The BGC plans to issue further fines ranging from EUR1,000 to EUR16,000 for players who have a long transaction history with the Betclic Everest website.
EU countries have been targeting illegal gambling websites for a number of years and most countries have a blacklist of such domains. The policy followed by most gaming commissions was to first go after the gambling establishments, impose fines and try to take them out of business. This is one of the rare instances when players have been targeted and fined by the BGC in an effort to dissuade other players from playing at the Betclic Everest website. Belgian players will think twice before they register at an illegal gambling website because they know that the BGC is serious about illegal gambling crackdown.