Norbert Teufelberger, the Co-Chief Executive Officer of the Bwin.Party Poker brand was recently arrested by Belgian authorities at the airport while he exited from a business conference. Reuters released a news report on the subject “A spokeswoman for the public prosecutor said Bwin had previously been asked to come to Brussels, but didn’t do so. Authorities then acted after they became aware that Teufelberger would be in Brussels on Tuesday.”
Bwin.Party was soon hit by enquiries form the general public and the news media about the connotations and consequences of Norbert Teufelberger’s arrest. They responded with a statement, “In response to press reports this afternoon, the Group can confirm that Norbert Teufelberger, Co-CEO, was requested to attend an interview with the Belgium authorities. He complied voluntarily with this request and is co-operating fully with the authorities.”
Bwin.Party’s Co-Chief Executive Officer was taken into custody by two plain clothes policemen as he left a buffet lunch. Norbert Teufelberger had been taking part in a conference earlier that day. According to Sigrid Ligne, the secretary-general of the EGBA, “They asked him to follow them for questioning, which he agreed to do.” Ligne witnessed the entire incident and made a statement soon after.
Norbert Teufelberger was arrested not because of any money laundering or illegal transactions or any foul play on his part. Instead, it all has to do with Belgium’s new licensing laws that Bwin and the EU don’t approve of. Peter Naessens, the Belgian gaming commission’s legal advisor stated, “We have repeatedly asked them to apply for a license and they have refused to comply.”
In response to this, Bwin.Party’s spokesperson, John Shepherd stated, “We believe Belgian law does not comply with European law and the EC made it clear last month that it wanted Belgium to address its concerns.”
As of now, a lot is riding on Teufelberger’s shoulders. It is hoped that his answers will satisfy the Belgian authorities and grant Bwin permission to operate. A spokesperson for the Belgian gaming commission commented, “He is permitted to make his speech, and after that he has to answer questions and explain why bwin is not following the rules with regards to offering games of chance [in Belgium]… “Based on his answers the public prosecution will decide whether he will remain in custody.”
Bwin responded to this stating, “… Mr. Teufelberger, who had been chairing an industry conference about responsible gaming and regulation, left Belgium as originally planned…Bwin. Party intends to continue its on-going dialogue with the BGC.”