THE LIQUIDY OF PLAYERS IN COUNTRIES OF SHARED LIQUIDITY

THE LIQUIDY OF PLAYERS IN COUNTRIES OF SHARED LIQUIDITY

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The issue of the taxes that poker players have to pay for their winnings, both online and live, has always been considered a threat.
In Spain, the Law of the Game was published in May 2011. In it, it was established that players had to pay taxes on their gross (not net) winnings, i.e. without taking losses into account.

This aspect, as negative as it is unfair, made the start of the regulated online game in Spain very convulsive. The community of players came together, initiating a massive game strike. At that time, very few were willing to risk having to pay taxes on gross profits.

The situation changed on April Fool’s Day (what a curious date) in 2012. The government published a Tax Measures Act, which contained provisions aimed at contributing to fiscal consolidation. Among them was compensation for losses, i.e. taxation for net profits.

The good news was a turning point for the online game in Spain, as the winning players had to pay for real winnings, as long as they could justify their losses, when making the net calculations (and demonstrate them in case of need).

Loss compensation was a step forward, but in the community there has always been (and there is) a desire to have a regulation that includes a tax like the UK, in which the players don’t pay tax for their profits (since already do it for them the operators, who get the contribution of the players through the rake).
Today, the situation in France is very similar to Spain. In theory, in France only professional poker players should pay taxes. However, the consideration of “professional poker player” is quite ambiguous, as the decision as to whether or not you are a professional is made by the French Treasury itself. In addition, the French Treasury has an extra advantage, as a ruling issued in March 2017 by the Paris Court of Appeal states that “when a person regularly plays poker, with the intention of making a profit, such dedication must be considered the result of a professional activity and his profits must be taxed”. Therefore, according to Gallic justice, regs are professionals and must pay taxes on their net profits.

The ruling caused great concern in the neighbouring country, as it marked the beginning of a “witch-hunt” among the main French players, who had excelled primarily in live poker. The persecution started a wave of departures from the country by professional French players.

In Portugal, the situation is very different. The Portuguese government doesn’t tax the net profits of poker players. Moreover, the cost of living is low compared to countries like France, Italy or Spain, and the quality of life is high, if you have average monthly income.

Portugal’s problem is the offer of gambling. Online, residents there can only play, at least for the moment, at PokerStars. And they can only practice two types of shared liquidity: MTTs and Zoom. There is neither “traditional” cash, nor Spins in their .frespt tables.

Winamax is making arrangements to offer its services in Portugal, but there, the procedures are slower (more than in Spain) and, at the moment, the French room has not been able to get the appropriate licenses.

Finally, we have Italy. The fourth signatory to the Rome Agreement is not going to enter, at least for a few years, into shared liquidity. The new Conte government, has banned the advertising of the game in their country, which has caused a real earthquake in the legal gambling sector. The poker rooms are considering suing the State before the Italian and European courts, and if the situation doesn’t change, it is very probable that they will end up closing and leaving the country. In this situation, nobody talks about shared liquidity or taxation. Online poker in Italy is moving towards its destruction, so the regs are already considering their imminent exit from the country. The preferred destinations are nearby countries that allow them to play on .com platforms and offer them a good quality of life (such as Malta or Croatia, for example). However, as we have read in the Italian media, Portugal also seems to be an attractive destination for players who prefer to have their activity completely legalized.

In Spain we need a review of player taxation. Mr. Juan Espinosa, General Director of Game Planning, commented some time ago that the long-term objective was to evolve to the UK model from one of shared liquidity. We hope that’s true. The winner of the title of “best European regulator” has always kept his word. Now it is his turn to take the next step.

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