Bookmaker news of the week

By Martin Green17 February 2019
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Paddy Power Betfair is set to appeal against two separate tax assessments totalling €55 million in Germany and Greece. The German assessment relates to the Betfair exchange up until 2012, where the Hessen Fiscal Court is demanding €40 million, a figure that includes accrued interest. The Greek assessment states that the group is liable to pay €15 million in penalties and interest relating to the paddypower.comn licence between 2012 and 2014. Paddy Power Betfair said it did not even accrue that much revenue in Greece. It added: “The group strongly disputes the basis of these assessments, and in line with the legal and tax advice we have received, is confident in our grounds to appeal. We therefore intend to do so. Pending the outcome of these appeals, we paid the total Greek liability in January 2019 while we await clarity with respect to the timing of any cash payment in Germany.”

Unibet owner Kindred Group has reported that gross win hit £907.6 million in 2018, a 21% rise on the previous year. Underlying earnings before interest, tax, debt and amortisation were also up 10% to £203.7 million, while profit before tax grew 13% to £149.5 million during the calendar year. However, it closed 2018 on a challenging Q4, which saw underlying EBITDA dip 21% to £58.8 million on the same period in 2017, while profit before tax fell to £35 million, while earnings per share were down 22%. However, that tough Q4 did not prevent the group’s share price enjoying a significant increase when the news was announced. Chief executive Henrik Tjärnström said: “Strong levels of activity and an all-time high in active customers resulted in an all-time high for gross winnings revenue. In the fourth quarter of 2018, we have seen strong levels of activity, together with an all-time high in active customers, proving our long-term strategy is paying off.”

Bet365 is suing Bulgarian operator Betio for intellectual property theft after it exhibited at ICE, the industry show in London, with a near identical platform and branding. The British betting giant said that numerous guests at the London show alerted it to alarming similarities between the two sites, causing it to launch its own investigation. Bet365 said in a statement: “We decided to initiate appropriate legal actions to protect our intellectual property rights, which in our opinion were violated in this case.” Bet365 has been operating legally in Bulgaria since 2016, and it is now planning to launch in Russia.

PayPal is accused of allowing problem gamblers to spend up to £150,000 a day in an effort to circumvent bank limits. MPs and activists demanded greater levels of responsibility from the online payment platform. “The first time I ever heard about a gambler using PayPal to pay for online gambling occurred about two weeks ago in clinic, when a young man came accompanied by one of his parents,” said Henrietta Bowden-Jones, who runs an NHS gambling clinic. “The patient was 20 years old, with no savings. He had been online gambling, had reached his limit on his bank card but somehow managed to withdraw by direct debit £2,000 every few minutes to continue gambling whilst his parents were asleep next door. When they woke up the next day, he had lost £150,000. I was horrified when I heard that this had been a legitimate use of PayPal.” Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, joined in the criticism and PayPal told the Guardian it was “extremely concerned” to learn that its service was being misused to fund excessive online gambling. It added that it had reviewed controls and was tightening rules around payments.