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Gaming machine operators face last chance

Only a few days remain for bookmakers, casinos and amusement arcades to register for the new Machine Games Duty.

The new tax comes into effect in four weeks' time on 1 February 2013 and will make it compulsory for anyone responsible for a premises where gaming machines are provided to register with HMRC before Friday 11 January.

The new tax applies where customers are asked to pay to play on a machine in the hope of winning cash greater than the cost to play. It replaces the Amusement Machine Licence Duty and standard rate VAT on takings. Those who do not register could face a penalty worth 100 per cent of tax due and could even be issued where there is no tax due.

Registering by 11 January is the only way to guarantee no penalty as the Revenue has said it cannot promise to process late registrations before the legislation comes into effect. HMRC has also recommended that the quickest way to register with the deadline fast approaching is online via its own website.

Current estimates say there are 260,000 gaming machines active in the UK with 190,000 subject to original duties. It is thought the new tax will affect approximately 42,000 businesses.

Two rates will be applied under the new rules: five per cent for machines where the maximum cost per game is 10 pence and the cash prize is eight pounds or less and 20 per cent for anything higher.

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