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The government does not want to use sports betting taxes more heavily to fund sport

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“Sport must finance sport” : the formula is from Senator Michel Savin (Les Républicains, LR). It is shared by a number of parliamentarians – left, right or center – who have expressed this demand to the government on several occasions in recent weeks, during discussions on the finance bill for 2023.

The idea is to redirect a greater part, if not all, of the taxes levied by the State on gaming revenue and, above all, on online sports betting revenue to the National Sports Agency (ANS). , the structure responsible for implementing public sports policies. We must act on [le montant des sommes issues] of these taxes, pleaded the senator (Union of Democrats and Independents) Claude Kern during the examination in public session of the credits of the “sport mission”, Friday 25 November.

A few weeks earlier, the deputy (Socialist Party, PS) Claudia Rouaux, rapporteur on this “sport mission”, had calculated at ” 100 million euros » the additional envelope “release for the sporting world” on the levies made by the State on games and sports betting. “These new means would make it possible to further support the development of amateur sport, via additional funding for the construction and energy renovation of sports facilities”, she had advanced.

Financing of the general state budget

The budget of the ANS is already fed – among other things – by these “earmarked taxes”, as they are called. But the Agency only receives a small part of the sums deducted by the State from games operated by the FDJ (excluding sports betting) and sports betting (operated by the FDJ and various approved operators). These taxes are mainly used to finance the general budget of the State, and therefore other items than sport.

Read also: Budget 2023: a slight increase for sports

In 2023, the amounts of taxes on games and sports bets devolved to the ANS will thus remain stable at 71.8 million and 34.6 million euros respectively. At the same time, 147.1 million euros from the sports betting tax and 174.2 million euros from the gambling tax will flow into the general state budget, a marked increase compared to to 76.7 million and 162.6 million in 2022.

If it is above all on the sums deducted by the State from online sports betting that the requests for a change of allocation are concentrated, it is because “online sports betting stakes have increased by 44% in one year and by 200% in five years”, underlines the senator (PS) Jean-Jacques Lozach, rapporteur on the credits of the “sport mission”. However, he adds, these sports bets “would not exist without their support, that is to say sport, which would not exist without voluntary work”.

Aftermath of the Mediapro affair

The “invitation” to direct taxes levied on sports betting more widely or totally towards the ANS is also – if not above all – motivated by the fact that the “Buffet tax” (named after the former sports minister who instituted) no longer pays as much as expected. Deducted from audiovisual broadcasting rights, mainly those of football, its performance suffered the repercussions of the fall of the broadcaster Mediapro, which led to a reduction of almost half of the sums paid to football.

To make up for the shortfall (14.4 million euros), the government has decided to transfer budget allocations. This process worries parliamentarians. Michel Savin sees it ” a risk ” for ANS stability, “to the extent that everything depends on the goodwill of the government, creating a gap between the missions and the means” of the Agency. In a report published in September, the Court of Auditors noted “that the ANS budget, in 2022, was mainly funded by non-sustainable public resources”, reminds the deputy (Freedoms, independents, overseas and territories) Stéphane Lenormand.

Read also: The Court of Auditors calls on the National Sports Agency for “clarifications”

If Claudia Rouaux says she does not wish “questioning the dual nature of ANS funding” – State budget allocation and resources from allocated taxes – the fears of parliamentarians of seeing the Agency tossed about according to budgetary arbitrations are all the stronger as the trajectory traced by the government for the next three years worries them : appropriations devoted to sport (excluding the Olympic and Paralympic Games) are expected to decrease by 20% between 2023 and 2025.

Rejection in the Senate

The call by parliamentarians to increase the amounts of the sports betting tax intended for the ANS or to allocate them entirely to the latter, however, remained without effect. The government rejected this request to the Senate on Friday, as it had already done for the first time during the examination on Thursday of the first part of the finance bill, relating to state revenue.

Read also: Olympic Games 2024: local elected officials fear a post-Olympic “hangover” for sport

“We regret your obstinacy in not wanting sport to finance sport”, launched Claude Kern to the Minister of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. During her hearing in the Senate on November 2, the latter had however declared about the sums deducted by the State from online games and sports betting: “We are thinking about how to benefit from some of this dynamism. »

As far as it is concerned, the National Association of elected officials in charge of sport in the municipalities does not intend to let go of the matter. “We are going to work on this subject of the removal of the ceiling from the affected taxes”warns its secretary general, Vincent Saulnier, pointing in particular to the financing needs of structuring sports equipment (stadiums, gymnasiums, swimming pools, etc.).

The three sources of funding for the ANS

In 2023, the resources of the National Sports Agency (ANS) should amount to 468.02 million euros, against 489.3 million euros in 2022, according to the report by Socialist MP Claudia Rouaux, rapporteur on behalf of the Cultural Affairs and Education Committee of the National Assembly on the sports credits of the draft budget for 2023.

These resources come from three sources:

  • The “219 program”: in the language of the budget, this covers State expenditure relating to sports policies: development of sports practice for all throughout the territory, support for high-level sport, promotion of ethics and integrity in sport, promotion of sports professions. In 2023, this will represent 264.67 million euros.
  • “Affected taxation”: these are three affected taxes whose amounts are capped in finance laws, namely the levy on online sports betting by the Française des jeux (FDJ) and new licensed operators, the levy on games operated by the FDJ excluding paris athletes and the “Buffet tax”, levied on the rights to broadcast sports events or competitions. In 2023, these three allocated taxes should bring 166.1 million euros to the ANS.
  • Resources earmarked for targeted actions: these are, for example, credits intended to finance the energy renovation program for sports facilities. In 2023, this will represent 37.5 million euros.

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