LONDON Dec 14 Online gambling firm bwin.party
digital entertainment has struck a deal to operate in
Belgium just a few weeks after its co-CEO was quizzed by Belgian
authorities over the company's activities in the country.
Britain's bwin said on Friday that it had agreed a
partnership with Belcasinos, a unit of Belgian land-based casino
owner Groupe Partouche.
The deal gives bwin access to Belgian licences, as
Belcasinos is eligible to apply for a licence to operate online
poker and casino in the country, while Partouche expects to win
an online sports betting licence.
Belgian rules state that a company must offer the same
services both online and offline to obtain a licence. Opponents
say that favours companies based in Belgium and means pure
online providers cannot operate.
Bwin has had access to three of its websites blocked in
Belgium this year, which the company had said was costing it
700,000 euros ($916,000) a month in revenue.
Last month, the dispute escalated when co-CEO Norbert
Teufelberger was summoned for questioning by Belgian
authorities, with the Belgium Gambling Commission saying bwin
was in breach of its legislation.
Bwin said on Friday that following the Belcasinos deal the
Commission had agreed to drop pending legal disputes and had
begun to remove bwin's websites from its blacklist.
"Following recent developments in Belgium and after further
dialogue with the local regulator, we have put our differences
of opinion behind us and are now focused on the immediate
commercial opportunity," said Teufelberger and co-CEO Jim Ryan.
Bwin did not provide commercial terms of the Belcasinos
agreement, but said it was in line with similar deals elsewhere.
Online betting firms are struggling with murky regulation in
Europe, with different European Union countries operating
different rules that the companies say are often unclear or