Belgian Online Gambling Operators Relieved Of V.A.T. Burden

Belgian Constitutional Court strikes 2016 VAT imposition

Online gambling operators licensed and active in the Belgian market will be relieved this week to learn that Belgium’s Constitutional Court has overturned the 2016 imposition of a 21 percent VAT tax.

News of the court’s decision was broken this week by the Kindred Group plc, one of the online gambling companies that challenged the imposition of the tax on August 1 2016 in a departure from the previous VAT exempt status.

The government planned to raise an additional Euro 39 million from gambling operators with the move.

Gambling companies claimed the imposition of VAT was unfair in that it undermined policy objectives and lowered channelisation by affecting consumer protection, a position the court appears to have supported.

The Court additionally pointed to the inherent incompatibility between consumer protection and tax revenue objectives, especially when products (lotteries vs other products) and channels (retail vs online) are treated differently.

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