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A recent draft bill proposed to amend the
Belgian Gaming Act so as to allow municipalities to restrict the number of
gaming machines in pubs.
Under the Belgian Gaming Act of 7 May 1999, the
operation of games of chance is restricted to entities holding a license
granted by the Belgian Gaming Commission. The Gaming Act makes a distinction
between several classes of establishments in which games of chance may be
offered: casinos, arcades, betting shops and pubs.
In accordance with the definition used by the
Belgian Public Service on Public Health (in order to apply the general smoking
ban in the hotel and catering industry), the Gaming Commission defines pubs
(under the Gaming Act referred to as “Class III establishments”) as
establishments of which the main activity consists exclusively in offering
beverages for on-the-spot consumption, including alcoholic beverages, and where
no food products for on-the-spot consumption are offered other than prepacked
Pubs must obtain a C license from the Gaming
Commission when intending to offer games of chance in their establishment. The
C license only allows for the installation of two types of electronic billiard
games, namely Bingo and One-ball machines (Royal Decree 2 March 2004), hence
the organization of other games of chance is prohibited. Moreover, pubs are not
allowed to place more than two of those machines in their establishment.
According to its 2012 annual report, nearly 8000
Belgian pubs have obtained a C license from the Gaming Commission.
The regulations criticized.
Recently, the mayors of Schaarbeek, Sint-Joost-ten-Node
and Evere, 3 municipalities in the Brussels Region have uttered objections
against the legal provisions above-cited.
In their respective municipality councils, a motion was voted in which the
Federal Government is urged to revise the Gaming Act.
More in particular, the mayors require that the
municipal authorities, under certain conditions and with due justification, be
granted the competence for their municipality to either limit the maximum
number of gaming machines to one per establishment (instead of two) or to
impose a maximum amount of Bingo/One-ball machines in their municipality.
As a motion by the municipalities is not binding for
the legislator, the mayor of Schaarbeek, in his capacity of MP, introduced a
draft bill to change the Belgian Gaming Act in accordance with what has been
stated in the municipality motions (giving competence to the municipalities to
restrict the number of gaming machines in their territory). This draft bill is
yet to be discussed in the Belgian Parliament. It will be worthwhile following
whether this draft bill will reach the plenary session and whether a sufficient
majority will be found to adopt its proposed measures.
Should you have any further questions regarding the
above, please contact Patrick Van Eecke (Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org)
or Antoon Dierick (Antoon.email@example.com).