According to a recent report by Financial Times, the Co-Chief Executive of Bwin.party, Norbert Teufelberger, was detained by Belgian authorities today. Teufelberger was taken into questioning after he gave the keynote address at Responsible Gaming Day, an event organized by the European Gaming and Betting Association. Teufelberger was held for two hours in Brussels and questioned but not arrested.
Sigrid Ligne, the secretary-general of the EGBA, of which Teufelberger is a chair, stated that Teufelberger was approached by police officers in plain clothes at the end of lunch during the conference. Ligne witnessed the approach and stated: “They asked him to follow them for questioning, which he agreed to do.”
Police reported that Teufelberger was arrested but Bwin.party stated that Teufelberger ‘voluntarily conformed with a request to speak with the authorities.’ It was also reported that Tuefelberger asked why he was being questioned and officials stated that a letter was sent to the group with the reasons behind the question.
After Teufelberger was released, a police official stated that Teufelberger has until December 17th to answer questions in regards to the legality of Bwin.party’s operations in Belgium. The legal advisor for the Belgian Gaming Commission, Peter Naessens, commented that Teufelberger was questioned about an alleged illegal operation of Bwin.party in Belgium. Naessens stated that the commission has asked Bwin.party repeatedly to apply for a license and they have refused to comply with their requests.
Naessens further stated that according to Belgian law, operators must have a license in the country for offline gambling and then they can have an online gambling license. There is a blacklist of operators that exist in Belgium and Naessens stated that Bwin.party is on the blacklist.
A Bwin.party spokesman, John Shepherd, stated: “We believe Belgian law does not comply with European law and the EC made it clear last month that it wanted Belgium to address its concerns. A spokesman for the European Commission stated today that they may open formal infringement proceedings against Belgium.