The federal government must look for additional resources for the 2024 budget and is therefore looking at gambling. On Tuesday, the House approved a bill in its first reading that means that casinos can no longer deduct the regional gambling tax from tax. “An ill-considered and unauthorized tax increase,” say the major players in the sector, who fear they will no longer be profitable.
From January 1, 2024, physical casinos will no longer be able to deduct their regional gaming tax from tax. This measure should generate 45 million euros for the treasury and, according to the federal government, is part of an effective anti-gambling policy.
“An ill-considered and unauthorized tax increase,” the gambling sector responds. “With this proposal, physical casinos are hit hardest, while these are exactly the places where gambling addiction is most under control,” it said.
‘Rien ne va plus’ according to the casinos, if the bill passes. They therefore see the bill as a pure tax increase, “and that for a sector that already contributes a lot.”
According to calculations by Viage, the Austrian group that operates the Brussels casino, the bill would increase their taxable income from 330,000 euros to around 9 million euros. Their corporate tax would not amount to 88,000 euros, but more than 2.4 million euros. “This puts us 1.4 million euros in the red from one day to the next,” says Siham Makrache, spokesperson for Viage.
“This new measure could well mean the end of land-based casinos,” says Makrache. “For more than 10 years we have been one of the most important economic actors in the center of Brussels with more than 260 employees and many other jobs with our suppliers.”
Jurgen De Munck, CEO of Bwin Casino Oostende and Casino Dinant, also fears that the new bill will be the death knell for physical casinos. “And that would mean a social drama. Casinos are important economic players, employers and already contribute several millions to municipalities, cities and regions where they are located.”
“The Brussels region will also feel the financial consequences,” says Makrache, “as our local authorities are highly dependent on the income generated by the gambling sector.”
In a response to the business newspaper l’Echo, Brussels budget minister Sven Gatz (Open VLD) calls the bill a possible violation of the fiscal autonomy of the regions. “On the other hand, it could set a dangerous precedent for regional authorities,” Gatz estimates. The bill could thus pave the way for a general non-deductibility of other regional taxes derived from a federal tax, such as real estate tax and registration fees.
This article is originally published on bruzz.be