Tory MP, Matthew Hancock, is upset that many of the UK’s leading bookmakers have decided to set up shop abroad in a bid to cash in on internet betting, which he claims is having a detrimental effect on the horse racing industry, as well as the Exchequer.
According to the most recent United Kingdom gambling news, Mr. Hancock, a former aide to Chancellor George Osborn, wants all bets placed inside the UK to be subjected to the horse racing levy like they would be, should a client visit a betting shop, instead of betting online.
Mr. Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister disagrees though, and feels that London’s plans to stick transaction tax on online gaming in the UK and Gibraltar, where a lot of online casinos, and online sportsbook are based, is an aggressive stance towards the great number of companies that have set up shop in Gibraltar, to evade the high tax rate in the UK.
Mr. Picardo had the following to say on the issue, whilst in London for meetings last week: “There are issues on the horizon for Gibraltar. Those issues affect businesses in Gibraltar, and it is not always the usual common enemy that is responsible.”
Mr. Hancock though, MP for West Suffolk, whose borders include the great horse racing hub, and track of Newmarket countered with the following: “Racing has suffered a devastating fall in funding. The horse racing levy, the annual payment from betting to racing in return for the product on which so many bets are placed, has declined from over GBP100 million in 2009 to under GBP60 million last year.”
He added: “Prize money, the lifeblood of the sport, has fallen by half in two years. Even second place will no longer cover the cost of diesel for many of our smaller fixtures. The number of mares in foal is declining and more of our best stock is sent overseas into training, especially to France. Racecourses, trainers, jockeys and staff are struggling and livelihoods are under threat.”
Mr. Hancock continued his attack on the bookmakers by adding: “But with attendances at courses at record levels, why this decline? Because since 2007, 18 of our 20 biggest bookmakers have moved offshore. According to bookmakers’ own estimates they avoid Ј300 million in tax and tens of millions in contribution to the levy.”
Mr. Hancock feels that regardless of where the bookmaker is located, be it on the mainland UK or Gibraltar, if the gambler is based inside the United Kingdom, then he or she should have to pay the levy charge and tax, that comes with betting as if they would bet in a land-based betting shop.
Although the government is already considering Mr. Hancock’s changes to the British gambling laws, his fellow Tory MP, Mr. Philip Davies of Shipley, does not feel the same way. He claimed the tax change is a “blunt instrument”, and rather than increasing the tax, the focus should be aimed at reducing it.
Speaking on the matter he said, “We need to focus on why some betting companies are based abroad: that reason is the level of taxation and the level of taxation alone.”
At present there is no further word on if or when the changes would be implemented but bookmakers fear, it won’t be too long before their customers are forced to pay the high taxes and levy, despite believing to be out of reach, of Her Majesty’s revenue service.