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HMRC scores £93m penalty in ‘Spot the Ball’ victory

SPORTECH, the gaming group that bestrides everything from the football pools to horse racing and a multitude of other gambling channels, has been slapped with a £93m tax rebate after HMRC successfully challenged a VAT overpayment claim made by the Liverpool-based firm.

The rebate emanates from a historic claim made by Sportech that it made huge overpayments on its iconic “Spot the Ball” competition run by its Littlewoods Pools subsidiary between 1979 and 1996.

In March 2013, Sportech successfully won its rebate appeal but HMRC duly challenged the ruling at the Tax & Chancery Chamber’s upper tribunal earlier this year, a punt that paid off for the taxman.

Sportech now has until 15 October to appeal. If it does and still loses its appeal it will be forced to return the £93m that it has already booked on its balance sheet.

News of HMRC’s victory wiped a fifth off Sportech’s share price causing it to plummet like a three-legged horse carrying an overweight jockey at Beechers Brook to just 58p.

It was trading as high as 93p in January 2014.

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