Bookmakers Told To Repay Business Rates Relief As Online Betting Booms
MPs have urged bookmakers to repay tens of millions of pounds of business rates relief after online betting boomed in lockdown. A slew of pandemic winners have handed back more than £2billion of business rates relief. B&Q-owner Kingfisher is the latest. It has returned a £130million tax break following a boom in DIY and home improvement in lockdown. Full house: Although bookmakers' shops have been closed during both lockdowns, the firms have benefited from a boom in online gambling Now pressure is mounting on gambling companies to pay back their rates relief. Ladbrokes Coral's owner GVC, which has 3,300 UK shops, will receive £20million in business rates relief this year, while Paddy Power-owner Flutter, which has 350 UK shops, benefits to the tune of £4.8million. Online sales give retailers Games Workshop and The Hut Group... Pandemic Plundering: Takeover frenzy grips City as predators... ALEX BRUMMER: Brexit talks can't get caught up in fishing... London Stock Exchange appoints Julia Hoggett as its new boss... Although the bookies have been closed in both lockdowns, they have benefited from the boom in online gambling. GVC upgraded its earnings forecast to £780million in November thanks to 'current online trading' and has seen its share price almost triple since its nadir in March. Despite booming trade it has also refused to hand back tens of millions of pounds claimed under the furlough scheme. Flutter's revenues grew by close to a third between July and September, and this week it signed a £3billion deal to buy a larger share of US sports betting company Fanduel. Esther McVey MP, leader of the Blue Collar Conservative group, said: 'If you don't need the Government handout then send it back, because there are plenty of people who will.' Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for gambling harm, said: 'While so many bars, restaurants, pubs and shops fear for their survival, it's only right that large bookmakers should pay this money back so it can be directed where it is needed most.' Flutter and GVC declined to comment.