Dutch Poker Players Set to Receive Millions in Taxes Back After Settlement Agreement
After a lengthy back-and-forth battle with the Dutch tax agency, Dutch poker players are set to be reimbursed millions in paid taxes on the world's #1 online poker site.
According to current Dutch gambling law dating back to 1964, poker is considered a form of gambling. Poker players in the Netherlands are to pay a monthly gambling tax on winnings that occur in that period, including poker. In 2015, however, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that players on poker sites established within the EU are exempt from these taxes. Since 2012, players in the Netherlands have been accessing PokerStars through PokerStars.eu.
PokerStars.eu: Isle of Man or Malta?
Determining the official place of business of PokerStars.eu has been the kicker throughout the legal war. The Dutch tax agency advocated that PokerStars.eu is located on the Isle of Man, outside of the EU, while the Dutch poker group named Malta as PokerStars.eu's official place of business. After lower courts established different rulings on the subject and the Supreme Court allowing each verdict to stand, an onslaught of individual cases was looming at tons of smaller courts.
To prevent having to fight over hundreds of cases, the Dutch tax agency offered a settlement agreement to reimburse all paid taxes over poker winnings on Stars from the past nine years. The settlement was offered to lawyer Pepijn Le Heux, representative of a group of about 130 players including some of Holland's finest. It's expected to be offered to other legal councils of players as well in the near future.
While the settlement officially recognizes PokerStars.eu to be located on Malta, for PokerStars.fr, a French skin that was accessible to Dutch players in earlier years, it was decided its HQ stands on the Isle of Man instead of France. As part of the settlement, Dutch poker players will have to agree to officially pay taxes on their PokerStars.fr winnings. This tradeoff is expected to be acceptable to most of the represented players, with the majority of them expected to sign the deal.
CasinoNieuws' Frank Op de Woerd welcomed the new agreement, saying: "I'm glad that after such a long period of time, there is now an agreement on the table that is favorable to the bulk of poker players. This closes a chapter that has been going on for so long. I expect most poker players to accept the agreement, although they will have to pay taxes on their PokerStars.fr winnings."
New Remote Gaming Law in 2021
Online poker sites are currently facing heavy restrictions to conduct their gaming business in the Netherlands. Sites such as PokerStars and partypoker, however, remained accessible to the Dutch over the years, while others like GGPoker and Winamax opted to fully withdraw from the market.
With the official place of business being important to the courts, Brexit has also affected current gaming taxation in the Netherlands. Both partypoker and 888poker, located in Gibraltar, are officially out of the EU since January 1st and affected by the Dutch law. While PokerStars is now tax-free, these two sites travel the other way. Dutch players will now be subject to gaming taxes on both sites regardless of this settlement.
Fortunately for the now non-EU operators, the skewed landscape won't last long. On April 1st. 2021, a new Remote Gaming Law will replace the archaic law from the '60s, allowing all poker sites to officially apply for a license. It's expected that all major operators will be among those interested in gaining a foothold in the market.
Tax liability will shift from the players to the operators under the new law, providing a gambling tax-free environment for players and likely preventing long drawn-out cases like these to occur again.