Belgian poker players who have signed up at Betclic Everest Poker should be careful as they could get into trouble for playing at an online poker room that does not have a license to operate in Belgium. Many other European online poker players who felt that they were safe from the clutches of the law may get a shock if other EU nations decide to follow in the footsteps of Belgium.
Reports of regulatory bodies penalizing unlicensed online poker rooms are now quite common, but so far, players have not been penalized for playing at unregulated and unlicensed online poker rooms. Recently, the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) decided that players should also be penalized. In one of its most recent efforts to eliminate illegal online gambling activities, the BGC slapped fines on 79 Belgian players for wagering real money at the dot com version of Betclic Everest. The gambling site, which offers poker, sports betting, and online casino gaming services, has been locking horns with the BGC ever since the beginning of last year.
In February 2014, the BGC confiscated €600,000 that belonged to players after ruling that Betclic Everest was operating without a license in Belgium. In an official statement, the online poker room said that it was surprised and promised to clarify issues at the earliest possible. Ever since, the operator has never been on good terms with the BGC, which has announced that it intends to identify and slap fines of €200 on many more players. At the same time, the regulator has hinted that it could fine high rollers anywhere between €1,000 and €16,000.
By cracking down on players, the regulator has clearly indicated its intention of eradicating unlicensed and unregulated online poker rooms from within the country’s borders. The BGC has been very successful as Betclic Everest has withdrawn from Belgium and blocked Belgian players from accessing its .com site.
The online poker room ought to have cleared out earlier as the Belgian Public Prosecution Office has taken over the issue and intends to slap a fine of €150,000 on it.
Other EU countries may follow in the footsteps of Belgium. In September 2014, a criminal court in Munich found a blackjack player guilty of illegal Internet gambling activities. Although regulatory bodies are most likely to crack down on operators before targeting players, these reports serve as a warning to European players registered at unlicensed online poker sites.