18 July 2001


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Stanley Leisure to return to UK following abolition of betting tax

Less than a year since Stanley Leisure set up its Internet betting arm in tax-friendly Malta, the company has announced that it will be repatriating its Malta operations back to the UK by the end of the year.

The Group, one of the UK’s leading bookmakers, had invested GBP2.75 million in its Malta installation, which offered British punters tax free betting facilities.

However, the Group has announced that this operation is to be dismantled after the UK announced a major change in betting tax rules, which is expected to make tax-free offshore operations less attractive to gamblers.

The move has prompted Stanley to move its Internet operations back to Liverpool.
The Group reported a drop in profitability that was largely due to its fledgling Internet businesses, including the launch of its sports betting site in Malta, which it had opened to circumvent Britain's punitive gambling tax.

Leonard Steinberg, Stanley Leisure chairman, commented at the release of the Group’s financial results for last year, "Last year we were working towards opening our sports betting Internet site in Malta, to take advantage of the offshore taxation benefits. With the advent of the new betting taxation regime we shall be closing down our offshore operation and repatriating the business to the UK this autumn.

"The unique tax advantage which offshore Internet and telephonic channels offered against land-based shops in the UK is now gone. As a consequence, the migration that was anticipated by some from betting shops to online channels is now neutralised. Our internet betting operation should now be viewed as a complementary channel, contributing to the performance of the Betting Division as a whole."

Mr Steinberg added that the elimination of the UK’s betting tax regime was most important single event to occur in the past year.

Stanley’s Malta facility had lost GBP1.4 million sterling according to its first half-year accounts. The Malta-based business currently operates from a premises in Birkirkara, and employs between 20 and 30 staff.

Stanley Leisure was the first of several similar companies to be granted a local licence, with many more reportedly in the pipeline.

Under the new British taxation regime, the betting duty paid by customers on each bet will be eliminated and will be replaced by a Gross Profits Tax of 15 per cent, paid by the bookmaker. It is expected that the nine per cent deduction which has been paid historically by the customer will be re-invested and lead to a significant turnover improvement.
Stanley Leisure UK employs some 6,000 people in various sectors of the gaming and betting industry, operating 30 licensed casinos and over 600 betting shops throughout the UK and Ireland.



The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
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