Research conducted by gambling analysis firm Yield Sec has unveiled a concerning trend in Belgium's online gambling landscape. According to their findings, a staggering 2,214 illegal gambling

websites were identified operating within the country in 2023. Despite efforts to curb this illicit activity, only a fraction—approximately 500—of these sites are effectively blacklisted and blocked by the Belgian Gambling Commission. This disparity is primarily attributed to resource limitations.

Beyond the realm of legally sanctioned online gambling, a multitude of illegal platforms continue to thrive. Yield Sec's data underscores the pervasive nature of this issue, with over 1,700 illegal sites remaining active despite regulatory measures. Stefaan Savenberg, secretary of the Gambling Commission, shed light on the challenges faced in combating these illicit operations, citing the labor-intensive process of taking down illegal websites. With limited resources at their disposal, the Commission struggles to address the proliferation of illegal gambling platforms effectively.

Moreover, the task of dismantling illegal gambling websites often resembles a futile endeavor, with new iterations frequently resurfacing shortly after being blocked. Savenberg highlighted this phenomenon, noting instances where blocked sites reappeared with slight alterations to their URLs, necessitating repeated interventions. Despite these hurdles, the Gambling Commission has intensified its efforts in combating illegal gambling activities, resulting in a notable increase in the number of blacklisted websites over recent years.

Notably, legal gambling enterprises have voiced concerns about the adverse impact of illegal competition on their operations. Gaming1, the company behind the Circus gambling platform, has been particularly vocal in condemning the surge in illegal gambling activities. They attribute this escalation to the tightening regulatory environment, citing measures such as bonus eliminations and advertising restrictions as counterproductive and stigmatizing.

As Belgium grapples with the proliferation of illegal gambling websites, stakeholders are faced with the urgent task of devising comprehensive strategies to mitigate this threat and uphold the integrity of the country's gambling industry. Photo by Jamie Adams from Hull, United Kingdom, Wikimedia commons.