Published
Legal & Regulatory

Bookies may be entitled to VAT refund worth over £100m

Highstreet bookmakers across the country may expect to receive billions of pounds in VAT refunds from HM Revenue & Customs.

Court

The news comes after a tribunal ruled in favour of Betfred after the sports betting operator took HMRC to court over the payment of VAT on FOBT winnings between 2005 and 2013.

Betfred argued that any winnings from FOBTs should have been exempt from VAT as similar games available on the terminals were exempt from tax when customers played them in casinos or online.

According to the First-Tier Tribunal Tax Chamber, FOBTs were found to be sufficiently similar and that it would be a breach of the principle of fiscal neutrality if they were treated differently for tax purposes.

The tribunal reached a decision in favour of Betfred deciding that the FOBT games should not have been charged VAT.

Mark Stebbings, Betfred Managing Director, said: “We welcome the decision regarding the historical tax treatment of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals which pre-dates, the introduction of Machine Games Duty in February 2013.”

Adding: “It does not concern Betfred’s ongoing tax liabilities.”

They have yet to agree on the amount to repay Betfred but the bookmaker claims it could be over £100m.

If other bookies follow by Betfred's example there is the possibility that this figure could increase exponentially.

HMRC have been given time to make an appeal meaning that a final verdict may not be reached for some time.

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