by Renee Israel
UK online gambling groups are being forced to cough up millions of pounds in
taxes to Spanish authorities, before the country starts to issue new online
gambling licences from June.
Spanish tax authorities have been contacting gambling companies in the UK and
beyond, informing them that they are obliged to pay taxes if they have accepted
revenue from Spanish players in the past. This tax request is based on Spanish
legislation passed decades ago,
It seems that the Spanish authorities are taking advantage of the gambling
firms' hopes of securing an egambling license in the country. The government is
set to make its decision about which firms will be allowed to operate in Spain
in the coming weeks.
Bwin To Pay Spanish Taxes
This week, Bwin.Party become one of the first groups to announce that it
would pay back money due in back taxes. The group will need to pay as much as
€33 million in taxes, according to a statement released by the leading gaming
Explaining its reasoning, the group said: "Some weeks ago, the Spanish tax
authority contacted all of the major online gaming operators and made that, in
their opinion, any online operator that has ever accepted customers from Spain
has an obligation to pay Spanish taxes under two laws, one dating from 1966 and
the other from 1977."
"Previously, these laws were applied to operators based in Spain carrying out
offline gaming activities and to certain kinds of bets."
"As a result," read the statement, "together with a number of other operators
we have today completed a tax self assessment in accordance with the Spanish tax
authority's requirements and as a result are making a payment of €25.6 million
plus surcharges and interest of up to €8 million.
Bwin.Party said that, having taken these steps, the group believes that it
has now fulfilled all requirements and looks forward to receiving its license
and entering the Spanish market.
Sportingbet Follows Bwin's Decision
On learning that UK gambling groups would pay the Spanish tax,
Sportingbet followed Bwin.Party's decision and said that it would also pay up.
Sportingbet estimates that it will need to pay €14 million, as well as an extra
€3.2 million in surcharges.
"The payment of these taxes maximises the likelihood of securing a Spanish
egaming license," said Sportingbet in a statement.
Sportingbet also said that obtaining a Spanish online gambling license would
mark its "next step in the company's stated strategy of increasing the
proportion of the group's gaming revenue from regulated markets."