Who supervises the National Lottery?

The National Lottery does not fall under the Law on Games of Chance of 7 May 1999, but under the Law concerning the rationalization of the functioning and the management of the National Lottery of 19 April 2002. All other lotteries fall under the Lottery Law of 31 December 1851.

The management contract of the National Lottery does provide that an agreement may be concluded with the minister of Justice. On the basis of that cooperation protocol between the National Lottery and the Gaming Commission, cooperation already existed in the framework of the 0800-helpline. Apart from that, the Gaming Commission can also be asked - on a contractual basis - to treat complaints concerning the sale of products offered by the National Lottery. At present, the National Lottery is free to determine how the supervision is organized.

As it seems, there is indeed room for arrangements but so far, the supervision has not been properly defined.

The National Lottery is supervised by Steven Vanackere, the minister competent for the National Lottery. The daily functioning is supervised by a government commissioner who is appointed by the King upon recommendation of the minister competent for the National Lottery. The government commissioner attends the meetings of the board of directors.
 
The Gaming Commission is keen to become competent for the supervision of the National Lottery. The Commission regrets that minors have such an easy access to scratch cards and other games offered by the National Lottery.

What is the difference between a game of chance and a lottery?

A game of chance is a game or bet in which placing a stake of any kind results either in the loss of that stake by at least one of the players or betters, or in the winning of whatever nature by at least one of the players, betters or organizers of the game or bet and in which the element of chance is only of secondary importance in the gameplay, the indication of the winner or the determination of the size of the winnings.

A lottery is any public occasion during which the winnings are determined by fortune. A stake is not required, but the game has to be public.
The absence of a stake is a fundamental difference between a lottery and a game of chance. In order to speak of a lottery, a stake is not required. In case of a game of chance on the other hand, a stake is required.

Therefore, an elimination question with no stake is not a game of chance. If there is indeed a stake, we are dealing with a game of chance since an elimination question depends on an event that cannot be predicted (= presence of chance). If a winner is drawn from several entries, the game is also considered a lottery.

Am I allowed to organize a lotto game (bingo night)?

No.

Belgium outlaws running games of chance without a licence (see Article 4 of the Gambling Act). Kienen may only be offered in a gambling establishment. Violating this ban is punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine. However, the legislator provided an exemption in Article 3.3: 

 

3. Card and board games played outside Class I or II gambling establishments, and games run by amusement parks or carnival/fairground operators at carnivals/fairgrounds, trade fairs or other fairs in similar circumstances; or games organised occasionally and not more than four times per year by local associations on the occasion of special events or by a de facto association for a social or charitable cause; or by not-for-profit associations for a social or charitable cause, requiring only a very small bet and affording the player or gambler only a low-value material advantage.

 

The Crown determines, in application of points 2 and 3, the detailed conditions of the type of establishment, the type of game, the amount of the bet, the profit that can be obtained and the average hourly loss.

 

The Department of Justice is currently studying a draft Royal Decree fixing the amount of this very small bet and low-value material advantage. Therefore, until this Royal Decree is published it is forbidden to run ’small games of chance’

 

Note that games that do not meet the definition of a game of chance (presence of a bet, possibility to win/lose, presence of a chance or non-chance element) are not banned. For example, a free black jack evening. If you wish to advertise such events, please communicate clearly to avoid creating confusion with the Police and ensure you are not faced with a Police raid.

 

Nevertheless, in the absence of a Royal Decree, the Gambling Commission (Kansspelskommissie) has set priorities for its repressive policy. It is highly advisable to contact the local Police or Public Prosecutor’s Office if you meet the specified conditions.

 

The Gambling Commission has decided that the following files will be prioritised, i.e. when:

•    The Police or Public Prosecutor’s Office have doubts and information that the bets and payouts are higher than notified in the circular from the College of Prosecutors-General (0.20 ct per game and maximum of €6.20 profit)

•    There are only cash games and no tournament

•    Minors (-18 years old) are present

• A commercial circuit is in operation

• There is advertising of illegal websites or facilities acting as sponsors

• People known from the criminal circuit are acting as organisers or are present

 

A file is not a priority when:

• There is a tournament, once per month, costing not more than €20 for registration or membership.

 

It makes no difference whether the amounts are in money or material prizes. Both are considered forms of profit and, i.a., go to justify classification as a game of chance. If you are excessive with material prizes it is more likely that the Police or Public Prosecutor will react.

Which regulation applies to tombolas?

Tombolas are a form of lottery and fall under the Lottery Law of 31 December 1851. If you would like to organize a tombola, please contact your municipality (in case of a municipal lottery), your province (in case of a provincial lottery) or the FPS Home Affairs (in case of a national lottery).

Contact details FPS Home Affairs:

FR: Ronald RASNEUR - 02/518.24.55 - ronald.rasneur@rrn.fgov.be

NL: Martien BOVIJN - 02/518.20.89 - martien.bovijn@rrn.fgov.be