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.”