In the UK, gambling giant Rank Group could be about to recoup up to $45 million following a ruling from a VAT and Duties Tribunal that the taxman had breached fiscal neutrality rules in some of its value added tax (VAT) demands.
Maidenhead-based Rank is the firm behind online brands such as MeccaBingo.com, GrosvenorCasinos.com and GrosvenorPoker.com and brought a claim against the Government in 2005 arguing that it had paid too much VAT on gaming machines and that HM Revenue and Customs should return the overpayments.
“The Rank Group is pleased to note today's interim decision from the VAT and Duties Tribunal,” read a statement from Rank.
“The Tribunal has ruled that, from November 2003 at least, the UK's VAT treatment of certain types of gaming machine was inconsistent with European Union rules concerning fiscal neutrality. This resulted in an overpayment of VAT by Rank.”
Before December of 2005, certain types of gaming machines were exempt from VAT under UK tax rules while, at the same time, it charged this duty on other similar machines. In an interim judgement, the Tribunal said that the European concept of fiscal neutrality should have applied to the machines in the taxpayer's Mecca Bingo clubs and Grosvenor casinos as this model means that the same or similar services must receive the same VAT treatment.
The Tribunal must still consider specific additional points such as the period over which the claim applies and the amount of VAT to be repaid with a second stage of litigation expected later this year or early in 2009.
'The Tribunal has indicated that there is a strong likelihood that the case will be referred to the European Court of Justice,' read the statement from Rank.