The launch of regulated online poker in Spain on June 1st could be marked by a new controversy over back taxes for some of the biggest operators in the country. Some operators may opt to pull out of the market altogether.
The much-awaited introduction of regulated online poker in Spain may be facing a fresh controversy over potentially huge back tax bills, Pokerfuse reports.
Spanish authorities last year introduced legislation that would open up a licensing system for online poker operators, set to be launched on January 1st, 2012.
The system was delayed for an additional six months until June 1st due to legal and technical difficulties, but the process showed progress last week as authorities declared that the system was ready to go.
However, in a new turn of events, it has now emerged that operators wishing to obtain a license will be facing potentially huge back tax bills before they can be granted access to the market.
This as the conservative government in Spain has issued a last-minute demand that reportedly could cost operators like PokerStars and bwin.party millions of euros if they are to set up licensed operations in the country.
The taxes are calculated on grounds of the past four years of operation in Spain, despite no legislation existing in the country before 2011.
It is understood that bwin.party would be asked to pony up €60 million in back taxes, Sportingbet/Miapuesta €50 million and PokerStars a whopping €200 million.
Smaller operators with less presence over the past years, like William Hill and Ladbrokes, are in turn likely to be hit less hard.
The developments could mean that some operators will reconsider entering the Spanish market, and only PokerStars is reported to be mulling the possibilities of paying the bill if it is imposed.
In addition to the mentioned operators, Spanish authorities are also carrying out investigations that will determine if other companies or sites are eligible for paying the controversial back tax.