Online gambling software stars Playtech are the latest to beat a retreat from the Belgian market. Notices went out this week to affiliates of UK bookies William Hill and Gala Coral to the effect that neither company would be taking wagers from any customers from Belgium, new or old, effective Tuesday.
The decision – made for “regulatory reasons beyond our control” – appears to have been forced by an edict from the companies’ mutual software supplier Playtech. Players have been told to submit payout requests so that the companies can wash the lingering aroma of Belgian players from their databases.
Playtech is hardly alone in getting out of Dodge and/or Bruges. Earlier this month, Betclic Everest joined the stampede for the border, a decision no doubt encouraged by the seizure in February of around €600k of Betclic funds that Belgium’s Public Prosecution Office claimed were the proceeds of illegal online gambling transactions with Belgian punters. Belgium has even mused about prosecuting players who dare to wager with sites not holding a Belgian license so imagine what they’ll do to a company owned by a jailbird pornographer.
It remains to be seen whether Playtech will now seek a Belgian gaming license. In February, CEO Mor Weizer suggested the company’s grey market operations were a key component of the company’s growth strategy because they provided “the cornerstone in soon to be regulated markets.” At the same time, Playtech announced it was cooperating with Italian gaming regulator AAMS to develop a program to allow its Italian-facing licensees not currently holding a .it license to either apply for one or to undertake an “orderly” withdrawal from the Italian market.