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UK Will Slash Betting Tax

Jason Gorringe,, London

13 November 2000

The UK government has finally responded to the pleas of remaining British bookmakers, and the dust trail left by many others who have departed for warmer and more profitable climes by signalling an end to the 9% betting tax which has been making it very hard for local bookies to compete against their untaxed Internet brethren operating out of Gibraltar and Malta.

Chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-budget statement last week said:

"The Government's objective... has been to assess the scope for a modernisation of General Betting Duty that would deliver a business environment in which the British betting industry can compete in both the domestic and international markets, taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by the development of e-commerce, while ensuring that the future revenue stream from betting is protected.

"The Government believes there is scope for a modernising reform of General Betting Duty to deliver this objective."

The industry supposes that the percentage tax on turnover may be replaced by a tax on gross profit. There will probably be some consultation inbetween now and the official budget next April when the official position will be made clear.

Tom Kelly, of the Betting Office Licensees Association, said: "We welcome the Government's recognition of the problem of offshore betting, and we are pleased it has taken on board the need to give punters a better deal."

But the bookies may be celebrating prematurely: Gordon 'Stealth' Brown may be planning to include profits from Internet betting in the gross profit tax, and that could have two bad effects, first by driving Internet punters into the arms of foreign sites which are not liable to the tax, and second by merely replacing one tax with another, which may encourage a continuation of the exodus of bookies.


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