Hot copy: Stories that caught our eye this week from around the sector
Coates keeps the taxman warm once again
Bet365 owner Denise Coates and her family have topped The Times’ tax list for the third year in a row, as the paper revealed the online betting moguls made a total contribution to Her Majesty’s Treasury of more than £480m in 2020/21.
Denise, John and Peter Coates together paid £481.7m through a combination of corporation tax, employer’s national insurance, gambling duties and personal tax on the £421.2m salary Denise received in 2020.
Rounding out the list’s top five were more familiar faces in the global gambling industry, Betfred owners Fred and Peter Done, who together paid some £170m, while Intouch Games owners Simon and Yu-Lin Wilson came in at number 35, contributing close to £30m.
According to The Times, around £1 in every £5 of tax identified in its research came from people who earn most of their money in the gambling industry.
The total raised in tax from the nation’s 50 biggest contributors rose by £510m compared to the previous year, however The Guardian was quick to point out that of the top 10 richest people in the UK, only retail specialists the Weston family (the 10th richest with £11bn) appeared on this year’s tax list.
ICE starts to melt as major exhibitors turn up the heat
Gambling industry exhibition ICE London suffered a series of blows this week, as the withdrawal of the trade show’s biggest exhibitors seemed to cause a domino effect for organiser Clarion Gaming.
After cancelling its 2021 edition and, following increasing cases of Covid-19 across the world, postponing the 2022 iteration from its regular February spot until April, some of the world’s largest gaming developers and operators have gone cold on the event.
Gauselmann Group-owned Merkur Gaming was the first major exhibitor to withdraw a stall presence, citing the poor timing of the show (which is scheduled to run during the start of the Easter holiday period), large numbers of Covid cases in the UK, and logistical difficulties caused by the nation’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Scientific Games was the next to go, with industry behemoth (and historically one of ICE London’s biggest exhibitors) Novomatic quietly following suit yesterday (27 February), citing much the same reasons as Merkur.
“ICE is an important trade fair for the entire gaming industry and Novomatic hopes that the successful cooperation can be continued in 2023 under more favourable conditions,” the supplier commented.
Zitro and TCS John Huxley have also confirmed that they will be unable to participate in the show, while others have confirmed their attendance in support of the event.
Superbet sets sail
Another story worth noting this week came in courtesy of Bloomberg, which sat down with Superbet CEO Johnny Hartnett for a chat about the Romanian operator’s global ambitions.
Hartnett said in the piece he wants to take the Superbet brand “anywhere in the world where there’s a regulated gambling market” and hinted at expansion beyond Central and Eastern Europe and into overseas markets including Canada, Asia and the US.
Superbet is private and boasts financial backing from New York-based investment heavyweight Blackstone, which bought a strategic minority stake three years ago for €175m.
Hartnett told Bloomberg that Superbet won’t require too much cash to achieve its aim of global domination and even hinted an IPO could be on the cards in the not-so-distant future.