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Welcome to portail-social.be, an online information resource about social gaming in Belgium.

What is social gaming you ask? Well, the term “social gaming” nowadays can refer to any online activity that involves playing games with other people via a social media network, app or other website. These games can be anything from online racing and RPGs (where the only thing at stake is a player’s pride) as well as casino and betting games like poker, blackjack, roulette and video slots where money is involved.

This overview on portail-social.be takes into consideration social gaming websites and apps that use real money as well as virtual/pretend money or “credits”, which are often referred to as “play-for-fun” or “free play” casino games. Our focus, as you can discover below, is on the current situation in Belgium.

Social Gaming in Belgium

In recent years, much controversy has surrounded social gaming in Belgium. In 2014, the Belgium Gambling Commission (BGC) started to take steps (i.e. try to pass legislation) to make Belgium the first country in the world to ban online sites and apps that offered free-to-play casino games like poker and blackjack that were not properly licensed. They proposed to do this by blocking access to such sites in breach of the new legislation, essentially creating a blacklist.

The reason for this push for a ban is simple – but widely debated as to whether it’s true or not. The BGC argued that these sites do not do enough to prevent underage players from accessing these free-play casino games. Although no betting or actual money is used in these sites (which means the companies running the games normally would escape any gambling legislation already in place), underage players could, theoretically, experience a ‘replicated’ or ‘watered-down’ version of gambling, which could in the future lead to gambling addiction where real money at stake.

As well as little to no preventative measures to screen out underage players, the BGC also highlighted the fact that these sites and apps could easily be abused by those people facing bankruptcy, financial problems or those already suffering from gambling addiction.

As a result of this controversy, the BGC has started to add social gaming sites and free-to-play casino apps to its list of blacklisted real-money gambling sites.

In another move towards tightening up the social gaming and online casino scene in Belgium, the BGC has warned that regular online players could face a 75% tax bill on all winnings in the future; however, this legislation is yet to have been approved.

Currently, the legislation in Belgium requires all online casinos to obtain a license, which are generally awarded to operators who meet a set of criteria, such as having enough capital/start-up investment, paying the correct taxes, following the correct game rules, providing safe and secure payment methods and ensuring that underage players don’t access these games.

This current gambling legislation also extends to ‘games of chance’ – i.e. any online game that involves placing a wager. This wager can be real money, virtual money or just online credits with no actual worth. Just as described in the previous paragraph, these social games that have an element of chance must apply for a relevant license (of which there are many different categories) in order to operate legally in Belgium.

PayPal and Social Gaming – a brief history of PayPal used for online casinos

Another issue to consider regarding social gaming and online casinos is the role of tech giants PayPal. As the world’s most popular online money transfer service, PayPal plays a significant role in online transactions, and this includes the world of online gambling and social gaming, too.

Currently, PayPal can be used with hundreds of different gaming sites across the world to make real money deposits (money in) and withdrawals (money out), with PayPal acting as the middleman taking a fraction of the costs for its service.

However, it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, soon after PayPal was bought by eBay in 2002, the service stopped working with almost all online casinos due to security risks and legal complications.

As the online scene became more and more regulated over the next decade or so, PayPal once again started to work alongside online casino companies that met their strict criteria and were fully licensed to operate by their relevant country’s gambling commission. Today, if an online casino or social game that requires money transactions offers PayPal as a deposit/withdrawal option, then this can be considered as a sign that such company has gone through some sort of PayPal verification process.  For an updated list of PayPal casinos that offer a variety of casino and social games operating within the Belgium market please visit the FPS Just Gaming Commission website.

Generally, if you find a website, app or online game that does not offer PayPal, it often means that the website is blacklisted or illegal to access/play in the country of its origin.

www.portail-social.be

We hope this homepage of www.portail-social.be has given some useful insight regarding social gaming as well as the current situation regarding free-play casino games in Belgium. For more information, please feel free to continue browsing through our site, which has more information resources (links to other sites) as well as further information about this site. Also, if you would like to get in contact with the administrators of www.portail-social.be, please feel free to use our Contact page to send us your thoughts or questions.