Are my friends and I allowed to play poker for money?

No. Playing for money turns poker into a game of chance since the cards are dealt at random (the three elements – stake, possible winnings/losses and chance – are present). Games of chance are forbidden in Belgium, unless they are licensed by the Gaming Commission.

An exception to that rule is to be found in Article 3 (3) of the Law on Games of Chance of 7 May 1999, which states that card games outside of casinos and gaming halls are allowed if the stakes are very limited and the game can produce only limited winnings for the player. The college of general prosecutors has issued a circular in this framework (COL 8/2008) in which the following limits are fixed: a very limited stake of 0.22 cents per game and possible winnings of 6.20 euros per game.

Is poker a game of chance?

Yes. In order to speak of a game of chance, three elements have to be present: a stake, a possibility to lose that stake or to obtain winnings, and chance. Pursuant to the Belgian Law on Games of Chance, using money as a stake therefore turns poker into a game of chance. As it happens, the cards are dealt at random.

Am I allowed to organize a poker tournament?

No, unless the maximum stake is limited to 0.22 eurocents per game and the maximum winnings are limited to 6.20 euros per game. Indirect or hidden stakes (for example, increased drink prices or receipt of a T-shirt) are also considered as stakes.

In Belgium, playing poker for money is only allowed in the nine casinos. Tournaments for charity are also forbidden. At present, more flexible arrangements for non-profit organizations and associations with a social aim are being elaborated. The old regulation remains in force until the publication of a Royal Decree in which this matter will be regulated.