William Hill signals £150m betting windfall

Gambling group William Hill has stated it expects to recover up to £150m in tax after HMRC lost a legal challenge, with a tribunal finding VAT was wrongly applied to revenues from fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in betting shops

In a regulatory announcement, William Hill acknowledged that HMRC has confirmed it will not appeal an Upper Tier Tribunal ruling in a case involving two other gambling operators over a claim that VAT was incorrectly applied to revenues earned from certain gaming machines prior to 2013.

The companies involved in the case argued they had been incorrectly paying VAT on their winnings on FOBTs between 2005 and 2013 as the same games, or similar games available on the machines, were exempt from the tax when played in casinos or online.

William Hill said it has submitted claims which are substantially similar to those provided in this VAT challenge.

While its claims have not yet been subject to the detailed evidential and accounting reviews that will need to take place before entitlement to the refund can be settled, the company said it has considered a number of scenarios which suggest a potential net cash recovery of between £125m and £150m.

William Hill stated: ‘As a result of this announcement, we will now engage with HMRC to agree the support for, quantum and timing of the refund.’

Another gambling operator, GVC Holdings, the parent company of Ladbrokes and Coral's has said in its annual report that the group could expect to receive a refund of approximately £200m as a result of the tribunal’s findings.

An HMRC spokesperson said: ‘Following extensive litigation, during which the parties exhausted every legal avenue available, HMRC accepts the Upper Tribunal's decision.

‘We are unable to provide a figure as HMRC will now need to verify each claim made by other operators is legitimate. Offset action will be taken to clear any outstanding HMRC debts before any refunds are made.’

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