SKS365 Group Fined $136m Following Tax Inspection Findings

  • SKS365 Group is the parent company of Italian bookmaker PlanetWin365
  • Company maintains that it cooperated fully with Italian Financial Police
  • Blames errors on previous executive during new gambling framework
Judge's gavel and money on a table.
The parent company of Italian bookmaker PlanetWin365 has been hit with a large fine after an investigation by the Italian Financial Police. [Image: Shutterstock]

PlanetWin365 faces unfaithful tax return charges

A fine of €124m ($136m) has been levied against SKS365 Group by the Italian Financial Police. It comes after findings of potential unfaithful tax return on the part of Italian bookmaker PlanetWin365. SKS365 is the parent company of PlanetWin365.

Following a wide-ranging probe of gambling activities through Catania, Reggio Calabria and Bari, the ‘Glassia’ investigation by the financial police in 2018 uncovered a ‘sophisticated money-laundering network’ which seized €1bn ($1.11bn) in illegal funds and saw 60 people arrested.

It is thought to be one of Italy’s biggest anti-money laundering investigations that looked at the spending habits of three Mafia families.

Failure to declare income

Malta-licensed betting firms Revolutionbet, Bet1128, Betaland and Enjoybet were also implicated in the investigation. The largest of these bookmakers, Planetwin365, was charged with failing to declare around €4bn ($4.43bn) worth of income throughout the 2015-2016 period after an audit.

failing to declare around €4bn ($4.43bn) worth of income throughout the 2015-2016 period

The company’s books failed to include money taken through unlicensed betting cafes alongside those placed online, reported the Guardia di Finanza (GDF). This resulted in SK365 owing €6m ($6.65m) in regional taxes, €47m ($52m) in corporation tax, and a further €71m ($78.6m) in income tax.

SKS365 Group have since responded to say they have cooperated in full with the investigation, which included accounts from a separate period when the company was called SKS365 Malta, run by a different executive team.

They maintain that all violations happened under the previous owners before the operators were sold for €150m ($166m) in 2016 to Dutch private equity fund Ramphastos Investments.

The group have also reached out to VegasSlotsOnline, specifying that

the current management of SKS365 is not investigated and has not been identified among the suspects of any illegal activity.”

As it stands, no tax violations have been definitively assessed against the group following the tax inspection carried out by the GDF.

Group ‘hit back’

The group also hit back on the anti-money laundering stance, saying it was not an issue of avoiding tax by the business, but that in such a transitional period of Italian gambling, revenue was considered to have been generated by its Malta license.

In 2015, Italy began establishing its licensing framework. This meant that internet betting cafes, which were previously okay as long as the operator was licensed in another jurisdiction, then required Italian licenses to continue.

Despite the group’s protestations, the GDF claim they were only able to become a leader in the online internet cafe market by continuing to hold unlicensed establishments.

Since its transition to SKS365 Group, the company has formed a supervisory body to work alongside the legal, compliance, and anti-money laundering departments.

A spokesperson said: “SKS365 continues to cooperate with the relevant public authorities to fix the situation as soon as possible and to keep focusing on its only corporate mission: providing passionate people with the safest and most entertaining gaming solutions.”

Offenses not flagged up

Ramphastos has also commented to say that the offenses took place before the company acquired SKS365 and were not flagged up during due-diligence in the pre-acquisition.

They said: “[We] are happy to say that we remain very enthusiastic about the company, its innovative character, dedicated management and its potential to becoming the clear leader in the Italian sports betting market.

“Of course, a highly regulated and solid corporate structure that is strongly committed to compliance with the corporate mission to provide passionate people with the safest and most entertaining gaming solutions is inseparable with this ambition.”

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