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Belgium Approves 3 Poker Sites, Plans to Block Others
The New Year has ushered in regulated online poker in Belgium and the country released a list of approved sites this week.
PokerStars.be, Partouche.be and Casino777.be will all be granted fully operational licenses in the country.
Despite the .be domain, PokerStars.be and Casino777.be are expected to be the same as the .com versions meaning players in Belgium will be able to play against the rest of the world, unlike France and Italy.
The one exception appears to be Partouche.be as the site is currently French-only, which means the .be version will likely be Belgium-only.
Perhaps more interesting is the fact that Belgium has also created a “black list” of unauthorized online poker sites. Sites on the list will be blocked by the four largest Internet Service Providers in Belgium.
France has taken the same approach and recently made a ruling that all French ISPs must block unauthorized online poker sites.
Despite the list, online poker giants such as PartyPoker and iPoker have stated the new laws are impossible to enforce and they will remain open to players from Belgium.
The Belgium online gambling laws, which were passed in 2011, have received their share of criticism thanks to their restrictive nature. If Belgian poker player plays on an unapproved site they could potentially face criminal penalties.
For its part the European Commission has voiced displeasure at the new Belgium online gambling laws claiming they go against Free Trade Agreement, which assures free trade across Europe. The EC has criticized France for the same reason in the past.
Belgium is one of several countries that are looking to regulate online poker in 2012 including Germany, Spain and France.