The UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has approved the acquisition of game and amusement machine maker Barcrest by US-based Scientific Games Corporation for £35m. The deal, which was announced in April, was held up over OFT concerns that it would “result in a substantial lessening of competition” in the sector, but the OFT now says it won’t be referring the matter to the Competition Commission. Barcrest had been put on the block by owner International Game Technology, which had acquired it in 1998 for £42m from brewer and leisure group Bass.
Speaking of IGT, the company has just announced its new online slot Monopoly: You’re in The Money will launch on Virgin Casino, a branch on the Virgin Games tree. The five-reel, 30-payline slot features many familiar features of the classic board game, but what most concerns us is where the online version stands on the divisive ‘Free Parking’ issue.
According to a report on Tax-news.com, the recent opening up of the Italian online poker cash games market is likely being watched with keen interest by Italian bean counters. The Italian Revenue Agency and the economic assassins at the Guardia di Finanza have launched a campaign (rather unimaginatively dubbed ‘All-In’) aimed at quantifying just how much money online poker players are earning (and by extension, how much the government’s coffers are light). Earlier this year, letters were sent to Italian pro players, in particular those who’d signed contracts with online poker rooms, demanding details on their winnings, endorsement income, etc. The Italian authorities are (for now) reportedly focusing on the period between 2006 and 2009, probably because sufficient time has elapsed that stiff penalties for unpaid taxes now apply. Players who ‘forgot’ to report their ill-gotten poker earnings are encouraged to pay a visit to their local tax office to describe how good it feels to have been cured of their temporary amnesia.