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The Commissioners for her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (Appellants) v The Rank Group Plc (Respondent)
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1 User Commentary

Melanie Davidson (In-house lawyer) 28 September 2015

Case Digest: Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs v The Rank Group PLC [2015] UKSC 48

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The element of chance was provided by means of the multi terminal systems that ran the gaming machines operated by the Rank Group PLC ("Rank")

The Supreme Court handed down judgment on 8 July in Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs v The Rank Group PLC [2015] UKSC 48, Lord Neuberger, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath, Lord Toulson and Lord Hodge heard the appeal. 

Rank was appealing against a decision of the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the RNG was not part of any terminal and that the element of chance was not provided by the machine. 

The appeal turned on two points:

  • Were the slot machines operated by Rank a "gaming machine" in accordance with note 3 of the Value Added Tax (Consolidation) Order 1975?
  • Was the element of chance, implicit to the definition of "gaming machine" in part C of note 3, provided for by their machines?

Handing down the judgment, and in agreement with the conclusion of the Court of Appeal, Lord Carnwath had recourse to the Oxford English Dictionary when considering the first point. The definition of the word "machine" stresses the importance of "several parts" having a "definite function" that perform together. On the second point he stated that the question was how the element of chance was provided for "in the game".

Accordingly he concluded that the slot machines provided by the appellant had the overall purpose of creating a game of chance for the player. Both the terminal and the RNG are responsible for determining the winning or losing combination, the former being the active means by which this is generated, had essential and connected purposes. A terminal without an RNG would create a machine devoid of its purpose. The element of chance was provided "by means of" the terminal.

Appeal dismissed. 


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