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Spain: poker players to be taxed as sportpeople

Tuesday 18 de July 2023 / 12:00

2 minutos de lectura

(Madrid).- Poker is now considered a professional sport in Spain, so from now on all players, both resident and non-resident, will be taxed on their winnings.

Spain: poker players to be taxed as sportpeople

The Ministry of Finance is once again bringing news that affects the gaming industry. Over the last few years, this sector of the government has announced a series of regulations that have mobilised the big companies in the industry. This time it is about poker; the Treasury has now considered it a professional sport and, as such, the players, now professional sportsmen, will have to pay a tax on their winnings.

The new regulation, published on 28 March by the Spanish Tax Agency, refers to the concept of "sportsperson", which includes those whose activities involve both physical effort (athletes, golf players, car drivers, etc.) and mental effort. Poker would fall into the latter category along with chess and billiards players.

The Ministry of Finance's quest to have more control over the activity was evident after the release of the notice. The rule includes all those poker players who carry out the event one or more times, without any exception. In this way, the Government guarantees the taxation of those players who are fiscally resident outside Spain, but who return to the country to participate in events and often win big prizes.

Poker tournaments outside casinos?

Reactions were not long in coming, and debates have already begun regarding the changes brought about by this new rule. If poker is no longer considered a game of chance but a sporting and professional activity, then can it be organised outside casino halls, and can anyone plan a tournament wherever they want?

The authorities have not given specific statements on this point. However, there is nothing to indicate that amateurs, whether for recreational or economic purposes, cannot organise their own events outside the framework of gambling institutions, as long as they abide by the established laws. Even so, the gambling industry is strong in Spain and it is difficult to imagine that this could happen without entities in the middle.

Although the tax rules seem to overshadow the scenario for poker fanatics, the new categorisation also brings its advantages. Professional recognition paves the way for the development of new contexts in which poker is allowed to be played. It also enhances the value of the activity by distinguishing it as a professional sport that requires the development of strategy and mental skills.

All players will be taxed, no exceptions

According to the regulation issued by the Tax Agency, it doesn't matter where you are from and how many times you have played poker; if you win a prize while playing on Spanish territory, you will have to pay the tax corresponding to that win. In other words, it doesn't matter if you manage to win and get money without experience and for the first time, you must pay the same tax.

The only distinction that is taken into consideration is the amount of tax depending on the registration of residence. According to the note from the tax office, non-resident players are taxed at the rate of 24%, while those who are resident or belong to the European Economic Area are taxed at the rate of 19%. Poker, by becoming part of the list of professional sports, completely disallows the possibility of winning at random.

The state's intention to collect taxes regardless of the regularity of poker players seeks to strengthen its presence in the major tournaments organised in the country. These are usually attended by professionals who belong to a certain elite and who know the strategies of the game in depth. Very often, their residences are registered in places considered tax havens.

How this measure affects the gambling industry

The rule communicated at the end of March this year is very recent and projections on how it will be accommodated, whether it will open up a new field of poker as an economic activity or whether it will be detrimental to the casino industry by the possibility of staging tournaments in other venues, is still difficult to determine. However, gambling houses occupy a fundamental place in the area of entertainment in the Spanish society that enjoys both its physical and online versions.

The Spanish Government has closely followed the industry and all the activities surrounding it. The restrictive measures taken in recent years demonstrate the Government's intention to control the expansion of the gambling market. This leads to the likelihood that the new categorisation of poker is a manoeuvre based on the same interests.


Tags: Poker,

País: Spain

Región: EMEA



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