British government returns to the issue of introducing a levy on off-shore based bookmakers.
United Kingdom government is serious about putting an additional levy on off-shore bookmakers. In a recent announcement plans for changing British gambling laws and introducing additional tax on overseas bookies have been revealed. The extra money coming from these taxes will be used to support British horse racing industry.
The spokesman for the government, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, announced the amendment to the Gambling Licensing and Advertising Bill has been moved forward on the agenda. The main concern of the government at this point is creating equal conditions for both UK-based and overseas bookmakers.
The current situation
As the situation stands right now, land-based and online sportsbooks in the United Kingdom pay 10 percent of their gross profits from racing betting to the Horseracing Betting Levy Board. This money goes into the grants supporting the sport in the country. Offshore bookies pay no such taxes.
Lord Gardiner had the following comments: “We agree with the view that while we have a statutory levy, it should be fairly applied. We are persuaded that including a clause about extending the levy to offshore remote operators is fully in keeping with the context and the purpose of the Bill.”
Why is the issue back on the table
UK government is serious about putting a levy on offshore sportsbooks
• British gambling laws could be changed to introduce taxes for offshore bookies
• The tax funds will be used to support horse racing industry
• Match-fixing Gambling Bill was withdrawn
Government’s comments came in the wake of Lord Astor proposing a law amendment, which can potentially give minister the right to oblige the overseas sports betting operators to pay the same levy. According to Lord Astor, racing industry has lost around GBP 10 million last year, due to the fact that off-shore bookies weren’t paying the tax.
British gambling news quoted Lord Astor saying: “If the Government is going to regulate those based overseas on areas such as problem gambling and integrity of bets on UK sport, it shows it already has the reach and the entitlement. My amendment would put bookmakers based in the UK on an equal footing with those based abroad.”
He went on to add: “It would allow the Government, if it so wished, to remove the unfair competition that those based abroad currently enjoy and benefit racing.”
Proposal enjoys support
Lord Collins of Highbury, supported Lord Astor views, adding that horse racing is making a sizeable contribution to the United Kingdom economy. On the issue of overseas bookies Lord Collins said: “Why should onshore betting operators and those based in betting shops pay the full levy while those based overseas who don’t have a voluntary agreement pay nothing?”
Should the legislation change go through the Parliament it will concern all bookmakers located overseas, but operating on the UK market. Besides paying the above-mentioned levy they will also need to comply with strict regulations from the Gambling Commission.
Another proposed law amendment
Another amendment, where match-fixing offences stipulated a prison term of up to 10 years, was later rejected by the government. This wide-ranging amendment to the Gambling Bill was introduced by Baroness Heyhoe Flint, former England women’s cricket captain.
Baroness spoke about the amendment saying it was designed to cover all illegal activities connected with sports betting including match-fixing, sharing inside information, and spot fixing. She commented: “This improves considerably the current Gambling Act which does not as such provide any specific definitions.”
Baroness went on to add: “It would also introduce stricter penalties by increasing the current maximum sentence of two years to 10 years in line with the penalties applied to serious fraud offences. We are told that the low level of penalty in the Gambling Act is one reason prosecutors may not seek to use this measure.”
Besides creating strong prevention effect, the legislation would also make United Kingdom an “exemplar nation”, when it comes to sports betting legislation. Currently, authorities are focusing on fraud, instead of gambling offences, when charging involved parties with criminal sentences.
More on match-fixing amendment
Lord Gardiner described the attempts to tackle match-fixing as a priority for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He also said it was important for various sporting bodies to provide evidence on why the current gambling legislation is not adequate enough to address the fixing problem.
Having said all that, he added: “We have yet to see robust evidence demonstrating a problem with Section 42 (of the Gambling Act) itself as opposed to other factors such as evidence.”
Lord Gardiner continued: “The Government believes that the penalties in section 42 remain proportionate and appropriate and consistent with other offences in the Gambling Act and we believe there is nothing to suggest that the threat of a two-year jail sentence isn’t a sufficient deterrent or that law enforcement agencies do not take match fixing sufficiently seriously.”
According to Lord Gardiner, currently there’s a wide range of offenses match-fixers can be charged with even if there’s no link to betting fixing activities. After this Baroness Heyhoe Flint withdrew the “match-fixing” amendment proposal.