There is a strange phenomenon on PokerStars where big buy-in tournaments only have Greek players registered weeks out from the event. These players always unregister before the tournament starts, so why is this happening?
Greece taxes poker players on their PokerStars balance at the end of each day. This only happens to the amount which is available when the day ends. What this means is that Greek players will register to as many tournaments as possible to avoid tax.
For example, let’s say a player has $5,000 in their account at the end of the day, they will be taxed on all $5,000. If they register for a $4,500 tournament, their balance will only be $500, and they will only be taxed on that $500.
While this might see like tax evasion, this is more of a flaw in the Greek tax system than anything.
Are PokerStars turning a blind eye?
While PokerStars is surely aware of this happening, there isn’t much that can be done. The Greek government enforces a rule and PokerStars passes that on to its players. Who is to say that these players won’t actually play the tournament? If PokerStars taxed all available money – whether tied up or not – they would surely lose many Greek poker players.
It is of course in PokerStars’ best interest to keep account balances as high as possible, but this would be too risky to abuse. The loss of a Greek gaming license would hit a huge revenue driver will all Greek poker players not being allowed to play on the site.
So next time you see many Greek players registering in high-stakes poker tournaments early, know that in most cases it is to avoid any additional tax being paid to the flawed Greek tax system.
For further reading, check out this post on the Two Plus Two poker forums.