Online poker players in Belgium heard good news on Friday as Bwin.com announced a partnership with Belcasinos, giving Bwin.com-owned Party Poker access once again to the Belgian market. The Belgian gambling authority had placed Party Poker on its blacklist in May due to its failure to partner with brick-and-mortar operators in Belgium, and fined the company $100,000 for continuing to offer access to Belgians without a license. Belgian law mandates online poker companies form partnerships with Belgian casinos in order to win a license for online poker, casino and sports betting.
Party Poker now joins three other groups offering online poker to Belgians. Pokerstars/Circus Group controls one license. Golden Palace/Casino De Spa owns another, with Partouche/Casino de Dinant owning the third.
This agreement should put an end to the long-running battle between Bwin and Belgian gambling commission. ISPs in Belgium had blocked access to Party Poker, briefly detained BWin’s CEO Norbert Teufelberger in Brussells in November, with Belgian players facing stiff fines if they continued to play online with Party Poker. Party Poker in turn filed a lawsuit against the gaming commission, claiming the license requirements were against EU law.
Teufelberger and his bwin.party co-chief executive Jim Ryan, said in a press release, “We are excited to have reached an agreement with Partouche to offer our market-leading products under license to consumers in Belgium. Following recent developments in Belgium and after further dialogue with the local regulator, we have put our differences of opinion behind us and are now focused on the immediate commercial opportunity.
“Together with our new partner we are now in the process of securing the necessary approvals to meet the requirements set by the BGC and do not expect any interruption to our service for customers in Belgium.”
Jacques Frojman, CEO of Belcasinos and Partouche Belgium, said:
“bwin.party is a market leader in online gaming with strong brands in sports betting, poker and casino. We are thrilled to be working with such a quality partner in Belgium.”
Operation Elgar is part of an initiative by a council in London to eradicate illegal gambling machines that operate without a license from Haringay.
This is the third operation to try and clear out the unlicensed machines called `Operation Elgar` and was deemed a success.
Law enforcement officers in London visited seven different businesses, such as social clubs, snooker halls and fried chicken shops which resulted in a large amount of illegal roulette machines being seized.
Councillor Nilgun Canver said `These kinds of gambling machines encourage people of all ages to spend money they cant afford and this often results in the kinds of anti social behavior we see”.
The council in Haringay will be continuing to work with the gambling commission and the police to remove all these machines from the area.
In the run up to the end of the year when it is hoped the first us facing online poker sites will get a clean bill of health for licensing, there have been a few setbacks in Nevada.
South Point Poker had planned for its real money online poker launching this coming week, buy a setback has hit them and a delay with the tests to see if they will be suitable for licensing could push the Nevada Online Poker launch back as far as December.
Very rigorous testing is in progress and is taking a lot longer than was expected because of slow communication issues with the Nevada Gaming Commission.
For quite some time the South Point Poker team have been running free to play tables for USA located players which has enabled them to build up a years worth of data and a large database of players.
The setback is not ideal but with the way the USA banned online poker and online casino a few years ago, the online poker and online casino company’s are prepared for a few delays.
Due to players logging on and expecting to be able to play online poker for real money in Nevada it is reported that just for the short time it takes to get the licensing, the free play version of the online poker site has been closed down.
Despite all of the optimism that currently surrounds the full implementation of UIGEA, the pressure is still very much on for the small number of online casinos that are still prepared to accept US players.
This situation was brought very much into sharp focus again with the decision by Golden Casino to stop accepting US players.
This decision was essentially brought about by massive pressure that was placed on the casino to do so.
It clearly shows that while there is plenty of hope about the possible passing of a version of Barney Frank’s bill and the introduction of a regulatory environment, there still exists a very problematic situation for the few online casinos still left out there that are trying to deal with American customers.
A workable resolution to the situation is still what everybody is hoping to arrive at during some part of 2010.
The story of UIGEA is such a large one for the online casino industry that it is quite easy to forget that it is not the only regulatory battle in town.
There is no doubt that the coming year will be a very interesting one for the online casino industry and that regulatory conditions will be a major component in this. While the ongoing saga of UIGEA and the possibility of its repeal will certainly be the largest story on t he regulatory front and rightly so, it’s also important to remember that it won’t be the only one.
Several European countries will be talking another look at their online gambling legislation in the coming year and we can hope for a greater harmonization across member states with EU directives and laws in the area with particular regard to competition.
Australia is another large country where the current ban is receiving a lot of attention and momentum seems to be growing towards the possibility of the introduction of a regulatory environment as well.
There are also many other countries where regulation is likely to get an overhaul in the coming year as well.
While the trials and tribulations of UIGEA will certainly be the main story in the the regulation area in the coming year it is important to remember that it’s not the only game in town.
One of the main topics that keeps the minds of people in the online casino industry well exercised is online gambling ban in the United States.
Currently, we have a delay in the introduction of the full force of the ban and it might appear to some outside the industry that there is nothing else happening except the activity surrounding this.
For people directly concerned with the U.S. market this is mostly true but for the industry in a broader sense there is no shortage of other regulatory issues elsewhere to keep an eye on as well.
Several different European countries are having and creating headaches of their own in the area of online gambling regulation.
There are some that are trying to simply ignore the issue while others have attempted to introduce legislation that they feel would suit their domestic market only to find that what they attempting to do contravenes European Union regulations on competition.
The United States is the biggest single market for online gambling in the world but it also very important to remember that there are regulatory fires to be put out elsewhere as well.