The determination of the taxable base of the Gambling Tax has been unclear since the entry into force of the Spanish Gambling Act.

According to the Gambling Act, the taxable base for the vast majority of games comprises "the net income, defined as the total amount devoted to play and any other income that may be obtained directly from organizing or celebrating games, minus the prizes awarded by the operator to the players. In the case of crossed bets or games in which the taxpayers do not gain the amounts placed as their own income but simply transfer them to winning players, the taxable base comprises commission, as well as any other sums whatsoever, for services related to the gaming activities, no matter their type, which the players pay to the taxpayer."

Public Ruling Issued on the Interpretation of Taxable Base

On 5 December 2019, the Spanish General Directorate of Taxes published a public ruling (nº V3347/2019) interpreting this rule, which concluded that:

  • "Amounts devoted to play" include all registered bets, whether made with money deposited by the player or with bonuses and all amounts obtained for the organization or celebration of the games (i.e. contribution to the jackpot).
  • "Prizes awarded by the operator to the players" includes both the amounts of real money and the amount of bonuses, although for the latter their exchange and liquidity may be subject to certain conditions. In other words, the term prizes includes any reward given to players for the success of a game.
  • Amounts placed by the players and eventually returned to them do not qualify as prizes for the purpose of reducing the taxable base.
  • In the case of poker games, the ruling states that when the operator receives commission from the participants but also guarantees a given prize, the taxable base will be made up of the amount resulting from deducting the guaranteed and paid prizes from the gross gaming revenue. In addition, in the case of a so-called poker deficit, whereby the guaranteed prize is higher than the gross gaming revenue, the net income derived from the organization of the game is negative and can be deducted from the taxable base.

Key takeaway

Following the clarifications provided by the General Directorate of Taxes in the latest ruling, it is advisable for gambling operators to regularize their tax situation. The gambling operators who may not have filed their tax returns correctly in the past may wish to file complementary Gaming Tax returns and pay taxes due on this basis. Penalties would not apply in such cases, but surcharges and interest will be applicable.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.