Patrick Van Eecke and Antoon Dierick (both DLA Piper Brussels) comment on the Gaming Commission’s position on social network gaming.
The Gaming Commission again announced yesterday in Belgian media that it intends to restrict the possibility to play games on social network sites such as Facebook. According to the Commission, a majority of the participants in such games are minors and many of the games offered on social networks constitute games of chance under Belgian law. Belgian gaming laws (article 54 of the Gaming Act) state that participation in games of chance is prohibited for persons below the age of 21 (except for betting services, where participants need be at least 18 years of age).
Interesting to note is that the Commission, in a draft Royal Decree, already proposed a specific set of rules regarding social games, but these have not yet been approved on the political level.
In the Commission’s draft legislation, social games can be operated in Belgium without a license of the Commission unless the Commission has specifically indicated this social game as a regulated game of chance for which a license is necessary. Social games are defined as “games are offered through information society instruments, which have the same characteristics as games of chances which can be operated by additional license holders and which correspond with the definition of a game of chance as referred to in article 2.1°, but where no gain of any nature is attributed to the person who makes the stake”.
Still according to this draft legislation, the Commission will publish on its website the list of social games which cannot be operated without a license. Further, these social games could only be operated without a license in case a person can spend a maximum of 100 EUR per month on this social game.