Mr Green fights Austrian tax bill, acquires Mybet Italia

mr-green-italy-austriaMalta-licensed online gambling operator Mr Green says it has made a provision for SEK 108m (US $12.9m) in its Q4 2014 accounts in the event it’s forced to pay its disputed Austrian tax obligations.

The sum covers a self-assessed period beginning in January 2011 and ending August 2014. The start date coincides with the Austrian government’s imposition of a 40% tax on online gambling revenue generated by Austrian punters, regardless of whether or not an operator holds an Austrian gaming license.

Mr Green says it’s engaged in ongoing discussions with Austrian tax officials regarding a partial payment plan but the company’s legal advisors believe the entire liability won’t survive a court challenge. Mr Green intends to challenge the Austrian government’s cash grab in both Austrian courts and the European Court of Justice as well as with the European Commission. In the meantime, Mr Green says it’s still operating in Austria but is “reducing its market investments.”

In other Mr Green news, the company recently acquired the former Italian-facing operations of German online gambling operator Mybet. Mr Green says the Mybet Italia deal was financed with existing cash assets of unknown quantity. Mybet spun off its money-losing Italian operation in September, after similarly dumping its money-losing Spanish-facing Digidis operation.

Mr Green says it plans to use Mybet Italia’s license to enable the launch of the Mr Green brand in the Italian market and Mybet Italia’s current CEO will stay on to help with the transition. Outgoing Mr Green CEO Mikael Pawlo said the company hoped the launch would happen in Q2, assuming local regulator AAMS offers no objections. Mr Green intends to focus on online casino initially but hasn’t ruled out the possibility of adding a sportsbook. Either way, the company doesn’t believe the Italian operation will make a positive contribution to earnings this year.