March 1,2016 : TAX CONCERNS PROMPT POKERSTARS' EXIT FROM AUSTRIAN MARKET
Effective today, Pokerstars.fr withdraws.
Austrian players using the French-regulated version of Pokerstars at Pokerstars.fr have been advised by the company that effective March 1st the site will be closing its virtual doors to Austrian players.
In a message to Austrian players, the online poker company advised:
"We are writing to inform you that, due to the latest change in legal framework in Austria, starting at 10:00 ET on March 1 we will stop allowing players based in Austria to play on the PokerStars.fr site.
"Your PokerStars.fr account will remain open and accessible, and your funds can be withdrawn at any time to your registered bank account. Any tournament tickets or T€ balance will automatically be converted into Euro when you visit the cashier.
"You are welcome to use your StarsCoin to purchase cash rebates or any other items from the VIP Store, with the exception of online tickets. Please also be informed that your real money and StarsCoin balances cannot be transferred between accounts on different licenses."
The announcement unleashed a barrage of message board speculation, prompting the company later to add the following information:
"On January 1, 2016, PokerStars started paying gaming duty taxes to the Austrian Government for play on PokerStars.FR by players who had a registered address in Austria.
"This additional tax was in addition to the tax that PokerStars was already paying to the French government for play by all players on PokerStars.FR.
"It was unsustainable for PokerStars to pay double tax – to both the Austrian and French Governments – for play by Austrians on PokerStars.fr. Consequently, we have little choice, and need to stop allowing players with a registered address in Austria to play on PokerStars.fr."
With a punitive 37 percent tax rate on GGR in France, and a 20 percent Austrian tax on gaming transactions, the company apparently had little alternative but to call it a day in Austria.
In doing so it emulated its decision in late 2014 to withdraw from the United Kingdom at the prospect of a 15 percent point of consumption tax on online gambling, which is already hammering the profitability of major companies like William Hill and Ladbrokes