Poker in Europe has not exactly been the dearie of the authorities. Quite the opposite in fact. It took some significant power brokering and promises to pool the French and Spanish players. PokerStars and PartyPoker, two flagship platforms, had done significant efforts to make this happen. And while local regulation changed in favor of players, poker professionals, and not only, now have woes of their own.
Oh, Spain, What Do You Mean?
With the PokerStars European Poker Tour Barcelona on the cusp of hitting it off today, some players may see themselves restricted from participating. According to Germany-based player Hossein Ensan, he may not be able to participate in the event as Spanish tax authorities have told him that he owes money. More specifically, Ensan owes tax on the money he made during the 2014 EPT Barcelona.
Ensan had been a minnow of a player before his name appeared amongst the winners of the EPT Barcelona 2014. He had been participating in varied online tournaments and grinding as any good aspiring professional would have done. And yet, in 2014, he faced of Andre Lettau and Sam Phillips, striking a deal and walking away with the equivalent of $750,000 in winnings.
Happy that he had put his name on the map, Ensan decided to settle his taxes in Germany, but Spain has been pursuing a rather firmer course. Based on information revealed to PokerFirma, the taxman wants as much as $270,000 to cover for the tax on the winnings as well as sort out legal bills. Ensan’s life-time winnings hover around $2,650,000.
A Bizarre Case, Indeed
And Spain has been rather tough on its poker players. This is at least a two-fold tendency. First, Spain isn’t in the habit of turning a blind eye to its gambling community. In fact, until recently rather strict laws applied in the country and pooling players was not really part of the equation.
In a similar case, poker professional Francisco Vallejo Pons, hailing from Spain himself, was implicated by tax authorities that he owed in $1,150,000 from online poker play. And here comes the serious issue with Pons and what Spain accuses him of. He claims to haven’t cashed out a single penny out of what he allegedly won, simply because he ended up losing his deposit money instead. But Spain’s tax authorities continue to say otherwise.
Pons did admit to cashing out money from recreational poker, though, but it didn’t pertain to the case at hand. Spain’s rather hard-line approach to poker proceedings is indeed rather worrying not to mention that with Pons’ case now brought to light – perhaps the country’s tax man needs some fine-tuning after all.
A Shadow over PokerStars’ Barcelona
Ensan is not quite settled, though. Whether he attends today is anyone’s guess, as no reports of him being seen have surfaced at the time of reporting. Still, what is known is that he has hired a Spanish tax expert who helps him challenge the Spanish authorities’ request to pay a seemingly bulky sum of money on his winnings. Other German and German-based players have also been complaining of getting similar letters, although not everyone has received a knock from the tax man.