Belgium proves favorable for Kindred Group
On Thursday, Kindred Group appeared in front of Belgium’s twelve-member Constitutional Court seeking to overturn a 2016 requirement that demanded operators of online gaming facilities pay value-added tax (VAT) of 21% on the services provided to players in Belgium. The group was successful, and the provision was overturned.
Formerly named Unibet Group, Kindred Group changed its name in 2016 and is behind many popular online casino and sports-betting domains, such as Unibet.co.uk, MariaCasino.co.uk, the new VladCadino.ro and 32Red.com.
Headquartered in Malta, Kindred Group argued that Belgium’s VAT provision for online gambling was unjust as it was not applied to the country’s real-world casinos or its lotteries. Speaking in front of the Constitutional Court, Kindred Group also argued that the VAT provision did not support the 2010 policy aims of the government and had led to the creation of a tax regime that would undermine the protections afforded to customers and reduce ‘channelization.’
Responding to the ruling the Kindred Group released the following statement, ‘Kindred Group yesterday received a positive ruling in the Belgian Constitutional Court cancelling the imposed value-added tax on online gambling…Kindred Group remains committed to sustainable regulation and sees the ruling as positive for consumer protection.’
Highly competitive iGaming market
Another argument presented by the group was that the highly competitive iGaming market demands that domains with a local license provide players with services that can offer the same value as their international competitors, highlighting that the Court’s ruling reveals the ‘inherent incompatibility’ between the objective of protecting consumers and generating revenue from taxes. This, the Group argued, was particularly the case given that real-world casinos in Belgium were being taxed differently.
In their statement, the Kindred Group continued, ‘Kindred Group remains a strong advocate of sustainable regulation based upon a borderless digital market and channeling consumer demand to licensed offerings…We look forward to working with national and international policy makers and regulators to ensure gaming policy is sustainable and fact based.’