Belgium introduced a new gaming law last year which meant that from then on foreign internet gambling companies that wished to offer online gaming to Belgian citizens had to form a partnership with a land based casino in Belgium. Bwin.party is one of the largest gaming companies in the world. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
The company, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, which was formed in 2011 from the merger of Bwin Interactive Entertainment and PartyGaming is based in Gibraltar. It holds gaming licences in many areas including, France, Italy and Gibraltar.Bwin.party was involved in a long drawn out disagreement with the Belgian gaming authorities concerning its stance on issuing licences to operators from outside the country. Bwin.party did not apply for a licence to operate in Belgium under the new conditions obliging it to go into a partnership with a land based casino in Belgium. The company insisted that this new legislation broke European Union laws covering the free movement of services within the member states.
Several other European countries such as Greece, Germany, Cyprus and Italy have also been accused by foreign online casino operators of discriminating against them while favouring companies already based in their own countries. So Bwin.party carried on offering online casino gaming to Belgian players without a Belgian licence and as a result it was placed on a black list and its websites were blocked. The situation reached its final point when the company’s Chief Executive Officer was arrested for illegal gambling when he was in Brussels.After this arrest Bwin.party decided to come to an agreement with the Belgian Gaming Commission. The company has become a partner of a Belgian land based casino which is the only way in which a foreign online gambling operator can apply for a licence. This partnership with the Belgian casino group, Bel Casinos, which is owned by the French Partouche Casino group will allow Bwin.party to offer a full range of online casino games and online poker to Belgian players.