Rank plc, the British online and land gambling group, will be celebrating this week after the High Court in the UK rejected an appeal by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs against a VAT & Duties Tribunal ruling which had approved the company's GBP 59.1 million VAT refund claim.
The VAT was paid over a period of five years starting in January 2003 in respect of games of interval bingo and gaming machines in Rank’s Mecca Bingo clubs. Rank was awarded the massive refund late last year on grounds that the manner in which certain types of gaming machine in Rank’s clubs was treated for tax purposes was inconsistent with European Union rules concerning fiscal neutrality.
Interest on the refund will also be due to the gambling company.
The High Court decision could have positive implications for other gambling companies, a fact which Customs officials noted in a statement, saying: “There are some important legal points to consider before deciding our next course of action. The High Court’s decision affects all suppliers of mechanised cash bingo and we will be issuing a Revenue & Customs Brief shortly advising on how any overpaid VAT can be claimed.”
However, should Revenue and Customs decide to further challenge the refund, it has until June 29 this year to lodge a further appeal, this time against the High Court's findings. And Rank plc has not finished with it yet – a claim for the refund of another GBP 26 million paid in VAT between 2002 and 2005 has also been upheld by both the VAT and DutiesTribunal and the High Court. The tribunal may consider further refunds when it reconvenes later this year.