Casinos Austria has Belgian online licences annulled

4 September 2019

The decision to grant Casinos Austria International (CAI) online betting and casino licences has been annulled by Belgium's Council of State, potentially throwing the future of its sub-licensee Betway in the market into doubt.
 
CAI, which operates the Grand Casino Brussels Visage, was one of a number of operators to have its igaming licences challenged by gaming hall operator Rocoluc in September 2015.
 
The case centres around the fact that Betway, via its dot.be domain, offers both online casino games, under CAI’s A+ licence, and sports betting, under an F1+ licence. 
 
This, described in court papers as “accumulated access”, was queried by Rocoluc, which argued that offering two different types of gambling via a single outlet was discriminatory. This was based on advice from the Belgian Constitutional Court.

In several judgements from that court, it was ruled that the country’s gambling laws do not specifically permit more than one form of online gambling being offered via a single source, which is already prohibited for some bricks and mortar venues.
 
This ultimately informed the Council of State, the highest administrative court in the country, as it decided against CAI. It annulled the decision to award CAI the licences, meaning they have not been revoked, so Betway is unlikely to immediately go offline.
 
However this could mean that CAI will be forced to reapply for its A+ and F1+ licences, after making amendments to the URLs through which online casino and sports betting are offered. How it will ultimately proceed will depend on the Belgian Gaming Commission’s interpretation of the various court rulings, legal sources close to the matter said.
 
Further cases against other land-based operators that hold igaming licences are pending, as well as another Constitutional Court case.
 
However Philippe Vlaemminck of Pharumlegal told iGamingBusiness.com that the Council of State’s decision was “confusing”.

He pointed out that the Brussels Court of Appeal and the Advocate General of the Supreme Court had both ruled that offering both products under a single URL was perfectly legal. 
 
“The story is far from being resolved,” Vlaemminck added. “The Parliament tried to solve the matter, but the elections made it impossible. 
 
“Until there is a new government, I do not expect the matter to be finally resolved.” 
 
Belgian politicians are working to form a ruling coalition, following federal elections held in May this year.

Casinos Austria International and Betway have both been contacted for comment on the matter.