Bwin.party co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger Detained In Belgium
Norbert Teufelberger, the co-CEO of online gambling giant bwin.party, was detained in Brussels on Tuesday while attending the Responsible Gaming Day conference in the Belgian capital.
Teufelberger was taken in for questioning by Belgian authorities because of bwin.party's continued presence in Belgium without holding the relevant licenses. According to a statement by bwin.party, Teuffelberger complied with the request to attend the interview, which arose from the Belgium Gambling Commission's (BGC) view that bwin.party was in breach of the country's gambling legislation
"In response to press reports this afternoon, the Group can confirm that Norbert Teufelberger, Co-CEO, was requested to attend an interview with the Belgium authorities," a statement read on bwin.party's website. "He complied voluntarily with this request and is co-operating fully with the authorities. We will issue further details in due course."
Since the start of 2012, online gaming has been regulated in Belgium, meaning the likes of PokerStars — which acquired a license — and other online poker and casino sites have had to obtain an online gaming license from the Belgian authorities. It is understood that bwin.party has not yet obtained such a license but still continues to operate in Belgium.
The detainment of one of bwin.party's most senior managers is the latest in a long line of running battles between bwin.party and the Belgian authorities. Back in May 2012, bwin.com was placed on the Belgian blacklist, a list of companies which do not have the relevant paperwork required to operate in Belgium. Belgian customers who play on any of the blacklisted sites do so with the risk of being fined up to €25,000.
Just two months after being placed on the blacklist, bwin.com switched to the www2.bwin.com domain in a blatant attempt to contravene the Belgian gaming laws. However, the move backfired when the Belgian Correctional Court fined bwin.party €75,000 for breaching the current Belgian law.
A second statement, issued by bwin.party on Wednesday, maintained the position that the company is "acting and has always acted in compliance with applicable laws."
"Yesterday's interview lasted for two hours, after which Mr Teufelberger, who had been chairing an industry conference about responsible gaming and regulation, left Belgium as originally planned," the statement read. "Bwin.party intends to continue its on-going dialogue with the BGC."
Added bwin.party co-CEO Jim Ryan, "We have been at the forefront of regulatory change in Europe for several years and we have licences in Gibraltar, Alderney, Denmark, France, Germany (Schleswig-Holstein), Italy and Spain. We continue to strive for a regulatory framework in European Member States that is compliant with EU law."
PokerNews will bring you more details as this story develops.