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Belgian court overturns a law that imposed VAT on online gambling

Athira A

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Belgium gambling. Photo credits: https://www.google.co.in
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A Belgian court overturned a law that imposed value added tax (VAT) on online gambling in the country, owing to the challenges raised by several high-profile gaming operators.

Thus, the ruling by the Belgian Constitutional Court overturned the 2016 amendment introduced by the Belgian Finance Ministry that ended a VAT exemption for gaming operators.

Introduced on August 1st, 2016, this amendment called for  licensees to pay an additional 21 per cent tax on Belgian operations with the anticipations  to generate €75m per year  for the government.

This  triggered  legal challenges from a diverse range of companies, including European operators Kindred Group, Casinos Austria International, and PokerStars who were  were backed up  by local brands Carousel, betFIRST, and Casino Belgium, accompanied by  the government of Belgium’s French-speaking Walloon Region.

The operators emphasized  that with lotteries still exempt from paying VAT on activities, the move distorted competition in the market.

They also pointed out that despite creating additional tax revenue in the short-term, it could reduce gaming tax in the long-term. With escalated  costs making it more expensive, and less attractive, to operate in Belgium, it was creating a situation in which unlicensed operators could thrive, they said.

This argument was supported by the Walloon Government, which also argued that by removing the VAT exemption for gambling the federal government had encroached on the freedoms of the regional authorities.

The Constitutional Court accepted the arguments and scrapped the VAT provision for gaming companies.

However, it said, VAT paid on Belgian operations since August 2016 would not be reimbursed.

“Given the budgetary and administrative difficulties that would arise from the reimbursement of taxes already paid, it is therefore necessary to permanently maintain the effects of the provisions set aside,” the court explicated.

Kindred Group welcomed the court’s decision, saying that it highlighted the incompatibility of consumer protection and tax revenue objectives, especially when products and channels are taxed at different rates.

“For any gambling policy to succeed and with the ‘better offer one click away’, locally regulated online operators must be able to provide services of equivalent value to end consumers as services provided by competitors in the global digital world,” the operator said.

“Kindred remains a strong advocate of sustainable regulation based upon a borderless digital market and channelling consumer demand to licensed offerings. We look forward to working with national and international policy makers and regulators to ensure gaming policy is sustainable and fact based.”

SOURCE: GamingIntelligence

Athira is a self-described “logophile” – a lover of words. She loves updating her vocabulary and playing around with words, to frame a sensible world of letters. Letters come alive when they become words and when words become sentences. And that’s her job, to put them together in a meaningful way without loosing its essence. She has written content for websites, articles and poems for an international magazine, and press releases as well. She also loves writing on social media. She holds a Masters degree in bio-technology, but she has always been interested in the organic farming of words. Besides writing content for our daily news feed, she is also working as staff writer/editor with Impressions Content Management, based in Kerala, India, which offers writing and editing services to clients around the world.

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Industry News

ASA censors William Hill advertisements

Niji Ng

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ASA censors William Hill advertisements
Image Credit: Nintendo
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UK’s advertisement watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned the advertisement campaign of William Hill. The authority deemed that the advertisement was served to under-18s after Google’s ad placement programme placed it in a Nintendo Mario Kart app.

The ad, which appeared within an app called New Mario Kart 8 Trick, advertised William Hill’s online “Vegas games,” followed by a button which said “Install.” The app had a PEGI rating 3 – meaning that it was considered suitable for all audiences.

William Hill said its Mario Kart brand is not targeted at children.

It said the game in which the ad was seen was based on Mario Kart and that Nintendo had reported that in 2017, 86 per cent of Nintendo Switch players were over 18 and that Mario Kart was one of the main games available on the platform. It argued that although the figures were subjective, it considered that it was a good indication that Mario Kart was used by the “older generation.”

However, the ASA suggested that its audiences included under-18s, and that gambling ads were not appropriate around related media. It told William Hill to ensure its ads had appropriate targeting in the future, and that “the ad must not be used again without further, specific targeting to minimise the likelihood of under-18s being exposed to it.”

William Hill said that it “would ever knowingly target children or people under the age of 18 and that their intention was always to advertise and market to consumers who were 18+.” The brand said that it had used Google’s Universal App Campaign and that it had minimal control over the placement of ads across the tech giant’s search, display network, YouTube and Play Store properties.

 

Source: 5StarMedia

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Indian police cracks illegal gambling ring

Niji Ng

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Photo Source: indiatimes.com
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The police in the Indian capital of Delhi has busted an illegal online gambling ring. The gambling operations were being conducted from a residential building in New Ashok Nagar in east Delhi. The police arrested 14 persons, including the alleged owner and manager of the casino, for running the gambling ring, and 12 persons for participating in the gambling. The main figure behind the operation, who was only identified as “Deepak,” remains at large.

In India, gambling is legally prohibited apart from a few chosen locations, such as Goa. But the police indicated that the gaming endeavour could be tied to a money-laundering scheme as well. They seised a diary containing numerous transactions and customers’ names, 10 computer systems and a small amount of cash.

Pankaj Singh, the police department’s deputy commissioner, said the department had received several tips over the course of a few days prior to the raid. When a tip on Sunday indicated that the games were in progress in the first floor of the three-story building, cops moved in and made their arrests.

Singh was quoted by DNAIndia saying, “Our team raided the flat and found 12 people gambling online. The entire flat had been turned into a makeshift casino parlour and 10 computers with Internet connections had been installed in the house solely for gambling.”

The casino’s alleged owner, Amit Guttan, and his manager, “Neeraj,” were taken into custody along with the 12 gamblers. They were all released on bail after being booked for offenses under the Delhi Public Gambling Act.

The gambling group was reportedly formed through WhatsApp and regular customers recruited additional members. No outside individuals were allowed into the group. After paying an entry fee, the gamblers were provided with the password in order to play games online.

A police officer involved in the case added, “Roulette was the most popular game for these people because the winner was given a return which was 36 times the money they gambled.”

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Industry News

Gamstop appoints Jenny Watson as the new chair

Niji Ng

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Gamstop appoints Jenny Watson as the new chair
Photo Source: igamingbusiness.com
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Gamstop, a US-based video game and consumer electronics provider, has appointed Jenny Watson as the new chair of the organisation’s National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme.

The appointment of Watson, a former chair of the UK’s Electoral Commission, will trigger a series of changes to board positions in advance of the full launch, Gamstop said.

“My immediate priorities will be to recruit additional independent board members and to put in place an initial evaluation of the scheme following the first six months of operation, which will help Gamstop’s future development,” said Watson, currently the chair of The House of St. Barnabas, as well as the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel.

However, although there is still a need to bring in new board members, Gamstop is anticipating a formal launch “to take place soon” despite delays since the initiative was first unveiled nearly 16 months ago.

The UK’s new national online self-exclusion scheme, supported by the Remote Gambling Association, was revealed in June 2017.

A formal launch was initially earmarked for before the end of last year, before in December the target date was postponed until spring 2018.

Reynolds-Jones, who did not elaborate on the reasons for the delays in the formal launch so far, added that “exact numbers have not yet been identified” for the independent board director roles. However, she added that they would have “specific skillsets and experience to further develop the governance and values of the scheme.”

The scheme will enable UK consumers to exclude themselves via a single website process from all online gambling operators that are licensed by the Gambling Commission.

The website will also set out other measures that are available to help people manage their gambling and will signpost specialist advice and support services for those who might benefit from it.

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