The news comes about two weeks after the world’s largest poker site was granted a gambling license in Belgium in a joint venture with the country’s Circus Group. PokerStars was just granted an operating license from the Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta and will soon be launching www.pokerstars.eu.
The new license will help benefit PokerStars European players, among several reasons, the fact that it can make winnings on the poker site tax-free for citizens of certain countries such as Sweden and Finland where the domicile of the poker site is used as the main determinant of whether or not the players pay taxes on their poker winnings. You might remember, a year ago Swedish Poker Pro Viktor Blom “Isildur” was being chased by the Swedish tax authorities for something like $150 million due mainly to winnings made on non-EU licensed online poker rooms at the time like PokerStars whose Isle of Man offshore gaming license for many does not qualify as an EU license for tax purposes. Not having a “proper” EU license has been to a certain degree a deterrent for many tax-savvy poker players to play on PokerStars and has led them to play on other EU-licensed poker sites. Viktor Blom was reported to have moved to London, England last year in order to escape paying tax as a Swedish resident. This method of determining taxation differs to that in Canada where players are taxed on their poker winning based on a variety of factors, but mainly whether or not poker is their primary business.
Players also stand to benefit by having an additional watchdog overseeing the company’s gaming activities. But truth be told, these many gaming jurisdictions benefit immensely as well by having the largest online poker site as a resident, thereby being able to collect millions in tax dollars annually from the giant PokerStars.
Currently, the company holds licenses in Isle of Man, Belgium, France, Italy, Denmark, and Estonia. For Canadian players, this can of course cause some confusion with regards to which gaming licensing body to turn to for dispute resolution or in regards to who is safeguarding the players funds, especially when dealing with multi-jurisdictional licenses such as Isle of Man and Malta, but it appears that Isle of Man is the predominant license regulating Canadian customers for PokerStars.