While the main goal of the European Union is to accomplish freedom of trade and labor in all of its member countries, this is not always the case. When we are talking about the gambling industry, there are quite the differences in the regulations of each European country. While some jurisdictions make everything to give betting enthusiast a safe and easily accessible land-based and online gambling, the environment in other countries is quite confusing.
With many betting fans among Belgians and a rapidly growing online betting industry, there are various interactive sportsbooks where punters from the country can bet. While it is rather difficult to acquire a betting license, this means that all home-based sportsbooks are properly regulated and trustworthy.
Unlike many other European countries which strive towards liberalization of their gambling regulations, Belgium is actually adopting a different policy. Back in the days, Belgium had rather loose regulations when it came to betting. This changed, however, after 2011 when the country adopted a very strict policy about regulating both land-based and online gambling on the territory of Belgium.
The Belgians are definitely very passionate about gambling and sports betting, in particular. While many other countries were approaching online betting with reservations, Belgium actually allowed virtual betting back in 2002 and the country’s punters were able to freely bet online on their favorite sports. Despite the current strict betting scene in Belgium, this does not mean that bettors who reside in the country do not have interactive sportsbook options where they can enjoy a lucrative and fun sports betting.
Legality and Regulation of Sports Betting in Belgium
The gambling and betting scene in Belgium goes through quite the changes throughout the years. This has led to both a liberal environment back in the days and rather strict and regulated gambling and betting industry in recent years.
Before you dive into the key regulations that form the gambling situation in Belgium, it will be good to know what is managed by these laws. Games of chance are the products which are determined as gambling by the Gaming Act. Those include a game where there is a certain stake made and the win or the loss of this stake depend to a certain degree on chance.
When it comes to betting in general, the Gaming Act has specific regulations that apply. It is legal for Belgian punters to place bets on various sports as well as non-sporting events. It is also allowed to make bets on horse racing and Belgian bettors are entitled to make mutual bets on horse races which are carried through in Belgium or abroad but are complying with the conditions determined by the King. Fixed odds betting is also allowed on horse races which take place either in Belgium or abroad.
In order to be able to offer sports betting, operators must hold an F1 license while accepting bets requires an F2 license. The Gaming Commission is the authority which is granted the permission to issue licensed and regulate operators who offer online gaming and betting.
Key Sports Betting Laws
In order to be fully aware of the gambling regulations in Belgium, punters must take into consideration three very important acts. Those include the Lotteries Act of 31 December 1851, the Gaming Act of 7 May 1999 and the National Lottery Act of 19 April 2002. When we are talking about operators that want to provide online gambling and betting, the most important law is the Gaming Act.
As it was said earlier, online betting was not really regulated before the changes in the legislation in 2011, there were some amendments to the Gaming Act in 2010. They introduced a rather strict licensing system for operators that want to offer online games of chance and sports betting.
The changes in the Gaming Act which were introduced on 1 January 2011, were requiring a rather strict licensing process. This meant that operators will have a difficult time meeting the requirements of the Gaming Commission and acquire a valid license. There is a strict number of licenses which can be issued to online operators which means that there are limited sites where Belgian bettors can enjoy a properly regulated and safe betting environment.
In addition to the strict limit on licenses that can be issued by the Gaming Commission, the Gaming Act also determined that only operators that have a license for brick-and-mortar gambling and betting on the territory of Belgium can offer their services and products online to Belgian punters. This means that foreign operators will have a hard time meeting these requirements and receiving a license by the Gaming Commission of Belgium.
Sportsbooks and virtual casinos from abroad will not be allowed to accept punters and players from Belgium. What is more, companies that promote unlicensed gaming and betting operators to Belgians will be sanctioned for violating the Gaming Act. On top of that, Belgian residents who are caught betting at foreign casinos or sportsbooks may be fined with up to €25,000. This being said, there are some operators from abroad that gained licenses to operate in Belgium thanks to joining forces with locally based casinos or sportsbooks.
Belgium Sporting Events Coverage and Markets
Even though the Belgium punters are allowed to bet only at licensed bookmakers, they still have plenty of betting markets to choose from. Since the majority of sportsbooks are local operators who know what Belgian bettors enjoy, there are various odds on some of the nation’s favorite sports.
Just like many other European countries, Belgium is passionate about football. With the national football team showing great performances, it is natural that there are many Belgians who enjoy betting on the sport. This is why European football is one of the biggest betting markets at Belgian-friendly sportsbooks. Punters can often choose to place their odds on major football leagues such as Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Nations League and many more.
Another popular betting market where Belgian bettors flock is the one offering odds on horse races. This is a sport with a great fan base in the country and it is only natural that betting enthusiasts will also enjoy placing their money on major horse racing events. With the fame of the Belgian horse racing jockey Christophe Soumillon and the overall accomplishments of the country in horse racing, it comes as no surprise that many Belgian punters enjoy betting on this sport. The majority of trustworthy Belgian sportsbooks make sure to offer odds on local races and major horse racing events from other parts of the world.
Yet another betting market that is favorite to Belgian punters is cycling. With a large part of the population riding bikes to work, school or anywhere else, for that matter, the craze that Belgians share about cycling does not surprise anyone. This is why many punters are looking for odds on major cycling races, the most popular one among Belgians being the Tour of Flanders. It is held annually on the first Sunday of April and numerous cycling fans flock to watch the race. Meanwhile, those who enjoy betting online, can find various sportsbooks that offer odds on this and many other cycling races.
Tennis is also a sport that has many followers in Belgium and it also ranks as one of the popular betting markets among Belgian punters. Probably the sport gained a bigger fan base in the country thanks to Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters who are both local tennis players that have shown great accomplishments and have earned themselves the first place in the world at some point of their carriers. When it comes to sports betting, a big part of Belgian sportsbooks offer odds for major tennis tournaments which include the Grand Slam, ATP, WTA, ITF Men and Challenger.
One of the biggest advantages of betting sites is that they offer live betting. This feature allows punters to place bets on various sporting events and races while they watch live streams of the game or race. The good thing is that Belgian punters can also make use of live betting and make bets on football, horse races, basketball matches and other sports that allow live betting.
Popular Odds Format in Belgium
The most important thing when choosing the odds to bet on is to be able to calculate any potential profit. This is why bettors must be aware of the different odds formats that sportsbooks may use. While different online bookmakers may decide to express the odds in various formats, there are three ways which are most commonly used across different parts of the world.
The first way that punters may see the odds for a certain game looks something along the lines of 1.35 and expresses the decimal format. While there are other commonly used formats, many punters do like to use decimal odds in order to easily calculate the possible payout they will enjoy when their bet is winning.
Many refer to the decimal format as European odds. The reason for that is that the majority of countries in Europe express odds in this way. Belgian punters are also among the betting enthusiasts who prefer using the decimal odds. The example with odds of 1.35 expresses the total return when a bet of €1 is won. There is a variation of decimal odds which only expresses the net profit instead of the total return. However, Belgian punters are used to the traditional European odds.
Despite the preferences of bettors from Belgium, it is possible that some sportsbooks are also using the other two popular formats. If the online bookie where Belgians bet is also accepting punters from the UK or Ireland, it may also utilize the fractional format of odds. Just like the decimal format, it allows bettors to easily calculate their potential profit. If we take for example odds of 10/15, the number on the right indicates the wager amount, while the one on the left shows the size of the potential return. In the example above, this would mean that winning a bet of €150 will earn bettors €100.
Last but not least, is the American way of expressing odds. Just like the name of the format suggests, it is mostly used by North American punters. The odds are either a positive or a negative 100-unit number. If you, for instance, see odds of -124, this would mean that a bet of $124 will possibly earn bettors $100. On the other hand, if the odds are of +124, this would indicate that a $100 bet will bring winning punters a profit of $124.
Many sportsbooks allow their members to choose the format of the odds they are seeing. Nevertheless, decimal odds remain the most popular ones at betting sites that welcome Belgium bettors.
Payment Solutions for Sports Bettors from Belgium
There are many things to look for when Belgian punters are choosing the website where they would like to bet. One of the most important things is to find a convenient payment method which allows fast and secure deposits and withdrawals. Since Belgian punters are allowed to bet on sports only at regulated sportsbooks, this means that, in most cases, betting enthusiasts from the country can enjoy a safe betting. Punters from Belgium can enjoy hassle-free payment at any licensed sportsbook as they usually accept the EUR currency.
One of the most commonly used payment options is resorting to using a credit card or debit card. While Visa and Mastercard are the usual cards that can be utilized by punters, there is also the Bancontact card which is very popular among Belgian punters. No matter the card they would choose to use at the sportsbook of their choice, betting fans will be able to make instant deposits. In addition to that, this payment solution guarantees secure payments due to the high-level of security measures it incorporates. Withdrawals via credit and debit cards are accepted across numerous Belgium sportsbooks but the waiting period takes several business days.
There are often bettors who do not feel comfortable sharing their card details with betting sites. This is why the majority of bookies also accept payments via e-wallets. This is a method which eliminates the need of exposing sensitive information and allows instant deposits. Popular e-wallets that are accepted at numerous Belgian sportsbook include Skrill, Neteller and PayPal. The biggest advantage of utilizing e-wallets at sportsbooks is the fact that they also offer quicker withdrawals which usually take a couple of days.
Another extremely safe method to boost one’s betting balance is to use a prepaid card. This solution allows immediate deposits and the best part is that bettors remain absolutely anonymous while using this method. The most commonly accepted prepaid card service at many virtual bookies is paysafecard. It will give Belgium punters the opportunity to make safe and instant deposits at numerous sportsbooks. Unfortunately, this payment method is suitable only for uploading funds and bettors have to look for an alternative method when they wish to initiate a withdrawal.
It is also possible to upload money to a sportsbook via the service of online banking. The majority of Belgian-friendly bookies accept payments via iDEAL. It is an online banking solution which is very popular in Europe and allows punters to use their bank accounts in order to deposit funds to their betting balances. Thanks to iDEAL, Belgian punters will be able to make instant deposits and enjoy their betting right away. Unfortunately, when it comes to withdrawals, bettors have to look for another payment option.
Another convenient method is to utilize cryptocurrencies. At the moment, Bitcoin is accepted at quite a few virtual sportsbooks and punters can easily top up their betting balance or cash out their winnings. Belgian bettors will also have an easy time finding trustworthy sportsbooks where they can easily use Bitcoin for their deposits and withdrawals. The great advantage of this method is that it ensures instant transactions and one can top up their balance or cash out their winnings immediately.
Bonuses and Rewards for Belgian Sports Bettors
When it comes to evaluating their time at virtual sportsbooks, many punters take into consideration the promotions they can claim. The incentives that some sites offer to their members can make or break their experience. Belgian punters can also make use of various promotions depending on the sportsbooks they join.
Many virtual bookmakers have in store Welcome Offers. These are available only to those who have newly opened an account and usually request a certain minimum of deposit. This type of incentive can often be in the form of a match bonus which can double or sometimes even triple the deposit newcomers have made.
Another type of promotion that many sportsbooks also offer to their members is a free bet. It is often available to punters who regularly make bets online. Some bookies even have offers which present bettors with free bets every day they place wagers on sports. In most cases, free bets are given after punters make a certain type of bets on a specific minimum of odds. Free bets are usually not a large amount and have to be used at the sportsbook where punters bet.
As Belgian bettors can also claim such offers, they must keep in mind that it is important to read the terms and conditions that apply to such deals. Whether it is a match bonus or a free bet, there are usually wagering requirements that need to be met. This means that prior to being able to request a cashout, punters must stake a certain number of times the bonus they have received. In addition to these conditions, there often other rules that bettors must abide by which is why reading the full terms and conditions is very important.
Customer Support at Belgian Sports Betting Sites
Online betting can be both fun and a bit challenging for new bettors. This is why it is important to have a reliable Customer Support team you can contact whenever you need help with your sports betting. Since Belgium has a strict licensing policy when it comes to virtual betting, one can be sure that the majority of licensed operators offer a safe and smooth experience. This also includes wonderful Customer Support for interactive punters.
In order to make the betting of many bettors hassle-free, many sportsbooks have an FAQ section. There, betting fans can find useful information about various categories. Even if punters have additional questions after reading the FAQ page, they can often contact directly the agents of the bookie. The majority of reputable sportsbooks offer a live chat option which allows punters to ask any question and receive an answer in no time. If this contact solution does not work for them, often bettors can also send their inquiries via email. In addition to these options, Belgian-friendly sportsbooks often offer phone numbers that bettors can call and speak directly to a representative of the website.
Since a restricted number of operators can hold valid licenses in order to offer their products and services to Belgian punters, such sportsbooks are made to suit perfectly their preferences. This is why the majority of bookies that accept Belgian bettors support various languages which include Dutch, French and German. With great Customer Support, Belgian punters can really enjoy a smooth and thrilling online betting.