* Co-CEO asked to face questions by police after speech
* Gaming companies face uncertain regulatory climate
* Shares close down 4.2 percent
By Robert-Jan Bartunek and Keith Weir
BRUSSELS/LONDON, Nov 13 Belgian prosecutors have
questioned one of online gaming group bwin.party's
co-chief executives, taking advantage of his presence in the
country to request an interview on Tuesday.
Bwin.party said Norbert Teufelberger was cooperating fully
and had not been arrested. The world's largest listed online
gaming group is in a dispute with Belgium over licences, and
access to three of its websites has been blocked this year.
A spokeswoman for the public prosecutor said bwin.party,
whose products include online poker and casino games and betting
on sports events, had previously been asked to come to Brussels,
and had not done so.
Authorities then acted after they became aware Teufelberger
would be in Brussels on Tuesday, and plainclothes police called
at a conference on "Responsible Gambling", where Teufelberger
was the main speaker, to ask him to answers questions.
The company said it had only become aware authorities wanted
to question Teufelberger when they received a letter in Flemish
at their offices in Gibraltar on Tuesday and had not had time to
let him know. Bwin.party shares closed down 4.15 percent.
The case brings into sharp focus the risks faced by
companies in the growing online gaming sector which operate in
countries where regulations are either unclear or restrictive.
Blocking access to bwin.party websites was costing the
company 700,000 euros ($890,000) gaming revenue each month, a
spokesman said. Bwin.party says rules in Belgium do not comply
with European law.
Teufelberger, an Austrian, had been speaking at a conference
organised by the European Gaming & Betting Association. Police
asked Teufelberger to attend questioning after the conference at
around 1300 GMT, EGBA Secretary General Sigrid Ligne said.
Bwin.party, formed following the merger of bwin and
PartyGaming in March 2011, is listed in London.