The consequences of a tax on betting and gaming might be devastating for legal compliance within the gaming sector. This sector has already been heavily compromised. So indicated Emmanuel Mewissen the CEO of the Groupement des Casinos Belges (the grouping of Belgian Casinos) on Thursday, fearing the federal government’s current contemplated step.
The measure has not yet been confirmed but Emmanuel Mewissen, also the CEO of the Circus group, is anxious to make his fears known. Those operating legally may not survive, which would lead to the closure of numerous businesses and the loss of all jobs pertaining thereto. Belgium has nine casino operators. Figures indicate that, counting casinos, betting and online gaming operators, the sector represents 2,000 direct jobs, 700 of which are on a self-employed basis.
He laments, “We have a sector which is back on track after the crisis, which creates jobs, invests, pays tax and therefore contributes to the Belgian state. We are going to whittle away money because of budgetary concerns without consulting the sector which has, however, become highly professionalised. All this at the risk of reopening the door to the black market in gaming and connected mafias.” For him, the proliferation of illegal operators, acting without any control and with no tax to pay would constitute a real danger for gamblers who would be left with the gamble of no protection.
Emmanuel Mewissen also speaks of “pressure” and “collusion” of Loterie Nationale (Belgium’s national lottery), which has every interest in “operating in a way that involves the federal government attacking the private sector”.