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Bwin Finds a Partner in Belguim

Bwin.party digital entertainment has partnered with Belcasinos, a subsidiary of Group Partouche, to fulfill its Belgian online license requirement. The two companies will now work together to offer sports betting, poker and casino games to the Belgian market. The deal brings to a close a long-running legal dispute with the Belgian Gambling Commission.

The news follows a year of clashes between bwin.party and Belgian gambling authorities. Bwin, the owner of the popular Party Poker site, was blacklisted by the BGC for operating without a license and flouting the country’s online gambling laws. BGC regulations require that all online gambling operations must partner with a brick-and-mortar casino located in Belgium to qualify for a license. Bwin contended that the regulations were discriminatory and violated European Union law. The company sued the BGC over the matter, only to have the suit thrown out.

The company continued its presence in Belgium through its bwin.party and Party Poker domains, both of which were placed on the BGC blacklist. ISPs in Belgium had blocked access to the sites, and any players caught gambling on them were hit with fines. The Belgian court fined bwin $100,000 for offering its online services without a license.

Then in November, in a showdown that rocked the online poker world, bwin’s CEO, Norbert Teufelberger, was detained in Brussels by Belgian authorities. According to a company press release, Teufelberger cooperated fully and was released after a two-hour interview. The incident strengthened both bwin’s and the BGC’s positions, with both parties publicly entrenched.

Bwin has now successfully navigated the problem with its partnership with Belcasinos, a unit of local casino owner Group Partouche. The company has had other clashes concerning gaming regulations in Europe. As it seeks to obtain an online gaming license in Nevada and enter the U.S. market, it appears that bwin is trying to resolve its compliance issues.

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