International Policies and Practices on Gambling Taxation
Governments impose gambling taxes on the revenue generated from various forms of gambling, such as lotteries, sports betting, and online gambling. The rationale behind such taxation is to generate revenue for the government, discourage excessive gambling, and regulate the industry.
A key concept in understanding gambling taxes is the gross gaming revenue (GGR). GGR represents the total amount wagered by players minus the winnings paid out to them. It’s essentially the gross profit for gambling operators before expenses are deducted. Taxes are often calculated based on the GGR, making it a critical figure in the economics of the gambling industry.
Operator vs. Individual Player Taxes
Individuals fortunate enough to win at gambling may be required to pay a percentage of their winnings in taxes to the government. The United States, for instance, imposes high taxes on individual casino winnings, but the percentages vary depending on the state and the amount won. Additionally, the United Kingdom demands taxes on winnings from certain games, such as the National Lottery. These policies aim to keep the tax burden on winners manageable.
The countries with the highest taxes on gambling establishments usually don’t require individuals to pay additional taxes on their winnings. By examining different countries’ tax regimes, we can observe the financial impact of corporate taxes and see how different societies perceive gambling.
Countries with the Highest Gambling Taxes
Certain countries stand out for imposing the highest rates. By taxing gambling activities, these nations aim to generate significant revenue that can be used for public services and social programs or to mitigate the potential adverse effects of gambling. The following section will illustrate how the countries that have chosen to adopt the highest gambling taxes leverage this sector as a substantial source of government income.
The 2010 Online Gambling Law opened the doors to online racing and betting on sports. Five-year renewable licenses carry no fees for operators. However, they are required to pay fees to the organizers of French sports events for the right to offer bets.
France imposes taxes based on the GGR. Online operators are taxed at a rate of 37.7% GGR for racing and 55.2% GGR for sports betting. Retail betting incurs a tax rate of 44.5% GGR. Operators’ corporation tax decreased to 25% in 2022, while the standard VAT rate is 20%.
The Race Betting and Lotteries Act of 2021 introduced a 5.3% tax on stakes for sports betting, horse race betting, virtual slot games, and online poker, resulting in an effective rate of 5.03%. Land-based casinos face tax rates on gross gaming revenue, ranging from 20% to 80%.
Offline slot machine operators must pay municipal amusement tax of 12% to 20% based on GGR. Betting shop owners may also face local betting shop taxes of up to 3% on stakes, independent of the federal sports betting tax.
Casino concessionaires in Macau must pay tax amounting to 35% of their GGR. Additionally, gambling operators are subject to two more levies—a 2% tax on their gross gaming revenue, which contributes to public funds promoting cultural, scientific, social, economic, and educational development, and a 3% tax allocated for urban development, tourism promotion, and social security.
Furthermore, a 5% tax is imposed on the commissions paid to promoters. The Macau Gaming Law also stipulates a special levy in cases where a gaming table or slot falls short of the annual minimum gross revenue requirement, calculated as the difference between the generated GGR and the minimum revenue thresholds per table (MOP$6,000,000) and machine (MOP$300,000).
Online and land-based betting, online casinos, betting exchanges, poker, and other commission-based games carry a 28% tax rate. The land-based casino rate is 45% on GGR, with an additional 30% tax on the amount exceeding Kr4,453,400.
The tax rate for physical machines is 41%. Gambling machines in restaurants face an additional 30% tax on amounts exceeding Kr33,400, while arcades have an additional 30% tax on amounts exceeding Kr278,400, plus a per-machine fee. In the non-profit lottery and no-stake games, cash prizes exceeding Kr200 and prizes comprising goods or services exceeding Kr750 are taxed at 17.5%.
Online casino games and betting in Austria are exempt from the standard 20% VAT, except for slot machines outside online casinos. The current taxation structure for online casinos is distinct for various products. A 2% tax is applied to all stakes for online and offline casino betting. However, when it comes to online casino gambling, a substantial 40% GGR tax is imposed. Land-based casinos may levy a 30% GGR tax. Additionally, slot machines at online casinos are subject to a 30% tax on the net gaming revenue.
Countries with the Lowest Gambling Taxes
Some nations choose not to tax gambling companies heavily. Therefore, understanding these factors sheds light on their approach to regulating the industry. Countries with low gambling taxes adopt these policies to stimulate economic growth, promote competition in the industry, and maintain the profitability of gambling businesses.
By keeping tax rates low, countries encourage operators to open new casinos, online platforms, and other gambling enterprises, leading to growing investment, job creation, and tourism.
Another consideration is the competition among countries to attract gambling businesses. Reduced tax rates can make specific jurisdictions more appealing to casino operators, resulting in clusters of gambling establishments in the area. This competition among operators can result in better services and offerings for players.
Chapter 29 went into effect on January 1, 2004, making gambling taxes regional, with money going to the budgets of the Federation’s component organizations. This amendment allowed every region to choose its own gambling tax rate as long as it remained within the boundaries stipulated by Law #142-FZ. Tax rates on slot machines with cash wins varied from ₽1,500 to ₽7,500, while bookmaker and totalisator cash desks and gaming tables had tax rates ranging from ₽25,000 to ₽125,000.
Online sports betting license holders, the only type of online gambling permitted in Russia, pay a set monthly tax rate of ₽2,500,000 to ₽3,000,000.
Gambling taxation in Singapore has undergone significant changes. Mass market GGR is now taxed at 18% for the first S$3.1 billion and 22% after that, which signifies an increase from 15%. Premium (VIP) GGR, previously taxed at 5%, now faces an 8% tax up to S$2.4 billion and 12% beyond that amount. These rates are contingent on casino operators meeting specific targets. Failure to meet them results in a default tax rate of 22% for mass GGR and 12% for premium GGR.
The gambling landscape in Finland is characterized by a state monopoly, with Veikkaus Oy as the sole licensed operator. Traditionally, the gambling tax stood at 12%. However, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, this rate was reduced to 3.4% in 2022 and slightly increased to 5% in 2023. The tax rate will revert to the original 12% in 2024.
In Belgium, the gambling tax is region-specific. A general 15% tax and 11% in Wallonia applies to gross wagers, excluding national lotteries, pigeon races by participants, and non-profit games. Horse and dog races incur a 15% tax on gross margins, extended to non-EU events since 2015. Online wagers face an 11% tax on net margins. Casinos are taxed differently per game type, and a fixed tax applies to gaming machines in Class A, B, and C establishments.
The Income Tax Act and the Betting, Lotteries & Gaming Act govern gambling taxation in Kenya. Betting companies withhold 20% from winnings, so a win of Ksh50,000 results in Ksh40,000 for the winner, with Ksh10,000 going to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). A 15% tax on GGR, defined as gross turnover minus customer winnings, is also levied on bookmakers. This tax applies to casino, lottery, and prize competition winnings and must be remitted to the KRA by the 20th of each month.
Key Takeaways on International Gambling Tax Policies
Due to the introduction of gross gaming revenue (GGR), we can observe societal attitudes toward gambling and see how governments tax different forms of gambling, with the primary objectives being revenue generation, discouraging excessive gambling, and industry regulation.
Specific taxation rates and policies are tailored to each country’s unique socio-economic circumstances. Policies vary significantly in terms of tax rates on GGR, winnings, and specific gambling activities. Given this diversity, it’s crucial for individuals, especially foreigners, to familiarize themselves with specific regulations of the country they are gambling in to avoid any legal issues.