Unusual Outburst On Internet Gambling By Belgian Lottery Chief

Claims his nation is the “Wild West of online gambling”

Attracting attention this week was an astonishing outburst from the head of Belgium‘s national lottery, Jannie Haek, who in an interview with the Flemish daily Knack (later picked up by the Brussels Times) strongly criticised the Belgian Gaming Commission and characterised the industry in his country as the “Wild West of online gambling”.

The reaction of the Commission, which many believe is quite tough on enforcement, is awaited with interest.

Haek claimed that the Commission is not carrying out its regulatory obligations to the required standards, and quoted an instance in which he claimed that a minor had been able to register with the Commission under the name “Kermit the Frog” and then go on to open an account with an unnamed online gambling operator with a gambling limit of Euro 10 million.

It all sounds a little unlikely and lacks detail, but Haek is after all the head of the national lottery and therefore has some gravitas.

Haek went on to slam the policy for granting online gambling licenses, ranting:

“The Gambling Commission stresses its lack of executive decision-making powers: they say that because by law there are no criteria or rules, they can do none other than approve all requests. It really is a topsy-turvy world!”

Haek claimed that nations bordering Belgium have either prohibited online betting or heavily regulated it, whilst there are dozens of sites available in Belgium.

“They use the excuse here that it is so players are not using illegal sites,” said Haek. “How very absurd! Obviously Belgian gamblers are not going to visit prohibited sites. Why on earth should they? Everything which is prohibited elsewhere is legal here.”