Belgium's newly-formed government could potentially bring good news to online poker pokers within the country.
The government has announced plans to allow the creation of two new land-based casinos, with a decision that will lead to an increase in the number of land-based casinos in the country from nine to eleven. The measure has been decided "to help the country's struggling economy."
According to the coalition agreement, "the government will review the Games of Chance Act of 7 May 1999 […], with the purpose of increasing the number of allowed Class 1 establishments of games of chance to 11."
This is not only good news for potential land-based casino operators, but also good news for online operators as well. The country currently mandates that online casinos must partner with land-based casinos in order to obtain an online license from the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) to legally operate in the country.
Some of the online gaming sites to obtain a Belgian license include PokerStars, which partnered with Casino de Namur; bwin.party, which partnered with Belcasinos SA; Unibet, which partnered with Blancas; and Ladbrokes, which partnered with Middelkerke Casino-Kursaal NV.
Unlike players in France, Italy, and Spain, players in Belgian are able to play in a global player pool on these sites. It is expected that this will continue due to the country's relatively small population of 11.2 million people.
Change in Tax Laws?
While two new online gaming sites may be granted licenses by the BGC to offer online games to its residents, it is not all rosy for Belgian poker players, especially those that play for a living.
Belgium currently does not tax any of its resident's gaming winnings. This could be changing for professional players as the country looks for new ways to bring tax revenue into its country's coffers.
According to an article published on Saturday, Sept. 27, by Belgium's financial portal tijd.be, authorities believe that professional players should receive a different treatment on their winnings, since it is not considered to be an "exceptional event."
The news portal LaLibre.be expands on this as according to Belgium's administration, "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."
The taxes could be quite burdensome on professional poker players in Belgium depending on how much they earn. Belgian fiscal expert Michel Maus explained that "those whose earnings are in the top tax tier will be taxed at 75 percent."
Stay tuned to PokerNews as more develops in the Belgian gaming marketplace.
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