The European Court of Justice has decided this morning that contract bridge is not a sport. Therefore, entry fees to bridge tournaments are not exempt from VAT. Although bridge involves intellectual effort and skill, the Court held that the term “sport” referred to an activity characterised by a “not negligible” physical element. The Court recognised that bridge required logic, memory and lateral thinking and benefitted the mental and physical health of players. But the Court disagreed with Advocate General Szpunar that the health benefits of playing bridge indicated that bridge should fall within the VAT exemption for sports.
Raymond Hill represented the United Kingdom before the European Court in successfully arguing that bridge was not a sport.