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Sweden Shakes Poker Player Confidence With Tax Move

By: Russell Potvin , Sun. Oct. 19, 2014

Sweden Poker Screen Names

No one can blame a country for enforcing its tax laws, but sharing personal information ala "big brother" shakes the confidence of players.

Poker screen names aren't usually associated with the real names of the players who use them. In a bold and questionable move, Sweden shared screen names and other information with certain tax havens in an effort to identify the players who were using those screen names in an effort to extra tax revenues from them. The need they have suggested for this has to do with the heart of their gambling laws.

Here's how it works. If you are a poker player who wins in games that are licensed in the European Union, then you do not have to pay taxes on your winnings. However, if you wager with other poker rooms, then you do have to claim your winnings and they are taxed according to regular income rates which are pretty high. Taxes on about €27.5 million in poker winnings are what they have been going after with this move that saw tax authorities from Sweden working with tax havens to figure out who certain accounts belong to. This turned up about 50 different players who fit the description.

This investigation also included looking into online poker forums and other types of online communication searching out Swedish players who could have been playing on sites that are outside of the EU. This includes online poker hand databases which have been criticized much in the past for holding entirely too much information about players which is often data-mined against the policies of the poker rooms themselves.

If you're an online poker player in Canada, then you should be feeling pretty thankful right now that your government doesn't do this kind of thing. It's very scary and moderately questionable behavior to investigate people who haven't even been identified as breaking any laws, and it really sets the tone that Sweden cares more about tax revenues than the privacy of people who haven't been proven to have done anything wrong.