While online poker in the U.S continues to be up for debate, the state of online poker market in Europe is also coming under the scanner. France recently announced that its online poker market faced a severe decline during the last couple of years and ARJEL, the regulatory authority for games in France confirmed that the online poker market may never recover from the steady decline.
The United Kingdom recently informed online gaming companies of the new tax laws being passed and online gaming companies that wished to operate in the U.K had to agree to paying out high tax payouts.
Now Belgium joins the list of EU countries that are modifying their tax laws that govern poker. Online poker players in Belgium will soon have to pay close to 75% of their winnings to the Belgium. On the 27th of September, Belgium’s financial portal tijd.be published an article which stated the authorities in Belgium had decided to strengthen the laws that govern professional poker and ensure that poker players are taxed for their winnings. The new laws will propose a new tax percentage and also modify the manner in which taxes are going to be calculated.
In the past, Belgium law did not tax winnings that came from gambling as it was termed to be based on luck and considered to be an exceptional event, rather than a professional sport that paid out performance based fees. Now, Authorities in Belgium have decided to look at gambling from a different perspective. Authorities released a statement which said
an individual who plays poker regularly and who devotes enough time and efforts to the game to make it a profession should declare his winnings as if they were any other form of professional income.
However, Michel Maus, a Belgian fiscal expert states that these laws will not affect all professional poker players in Belgium. Maus said that the 75% tax law will be imposed mostly on the top professional poker players in Belgium who have accumulated huge amounts in cash payouts in the past. The new tax laws in Belgium now requires players to report all of their winnings as part of their professional income, so that taxes can be calculated correctly.
Professional poker players will be able to get tax breaks by filing outstanding overhead and expenses that covers transport costs, accommodation, buy-ins and even the losses they have incurred while playing poker. Belgium authorities will release more information regarding the new changes in the coming weeks.