BUSINESS

Rank Group’s £154m tax payday; Swedes win online; Spaniards lose on TV

TAGs: football, Rank Group, spain, Sweden, UK Gambling Commission

Shares in gaming operator Rank Group rose almost 15% Tuesday on news that Rank won a £154m legal ruling against UK tax authorities. The case arose when Rank claimed its amusement machines had been unfairly taxed between 1973 and 1996. Rank had already received £74.8m in tax refunds from HM Revenue & Customs, but will now receive a further £79.5m in interest. We’re sure it will come as a major surprise to learn that Her Nibs’ tax collectors are appealing the decision to the European Court of Justice later this year. Meanwhile, the interest clock keeps ticking…

Rank-Group-Swedes-Spaniards-Gambling-CommissionSwedish gaming industry association Rent Spel (‘Fair Play’) has issued a report that claims 26% of all Swedish gambling happens online. Using research conducted by Stockholm’s Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Rent Spel’s Prof. Henrik Jordahl claims that the online gambling industry employs as many Swedes as iconic carmaker Saab. The report goes on to note that the Swedish government’s National Pension Fund holds almost SEK 1b ($145m) worth of stock in companies such as Unibet, Betsson, Net Entertainment and Ladbrokes. For these and other reasons, Prof. Jordahl thinks Swedish authorities should contemplate liberalizing its online gambling sector, especially to permit private companies to hold licenses. Rent Spel was founded by former Unibet CEO Petter Nylander.

Philip Graf, former media mogul and current deputy chairman of UK communications industry regulator Ofcom, has been appointed chairman of the UK Gambling Commission. (The appointment takes effect April 1, but we’re pretty sure it’s not a joke.) Graf has also been named chairman designate of the new gaming body set to be produced by the Gambling Commission’s merger with the National Lottery Commission. The gig is Graf’s for the next five years, and he’ll be compensated £550/day, averaging two to three day’s work.

Speaking of working two or three days a week, Spain’s pro footballers are doubling down on their threat to postpone play on April 3 unless the government drops its requirement that one La Liga per matchday be aired on free TV. The clubs want the rights to the extra match to improve their bargaining position with, er, not-free TV companies (and possibly because the wealthy land-owning players despise filthy peasants and their pathetic little terrestrial TV sets, we don’t know). The footballers also want guarantees on revenues from football-related betting and lottery revenue. Don’t tell Phillip Graf – poor sod doesn’t receive any TV revenues at all.

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