UK Online Bingo Operators Want Fair Tax Policies

It’s no secret that online bingo and casino operators have been dismayed by current tax policies in the UK. Current offshore bingo and internet gambling operators pay little or no taxes in the UK. Online bingo and casino operators say that current tax policies put them at a competitive disadvantage. A recent news report quotes UK online bingo and gaming executives who say that the government needs to tax offshore operations. Gala Coral CEO told newspaper reporters “Right now there is no competitive advantage to being onshore other than; perhaps, securing a better relationship with racing and even that is debatable.” There have been proposals from regulators that would require offshore operators to obtain a UK gaming license if they take wagers from UK residents. Gala operates a chain of bingo clubs in the UK and has an online bingo site.

Leaver pointed out that offshore operations create no jobs in the UK and said “That seems a topsy turvy situation because offshore creates no employment. We want to see all offshore gaming taxed in the same way and at the same level as onshore. If not, then there is no way we could continue to see ourselves disadvantaged in this way.” Unfortunately most online bingo and gaming operators have moved their operations to jurisdictions such as Malta, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man where tax policies are more favorable.  Ladbrokes executive Ciaran O’Brien says his company pays more in taxes than what the gaming company retains in profits. O’Brien told reporters “We pay more tax than we retain in profit. The Association of British Bookmakers’ figure for the industry shows that it paid £1 billion in tax and yet retained just £600 million in profit. We are working harder for the government than we are for ourselves. Let’s say you set a very high tax rate. How would you enforce it? There will be a lot of people outside the net. The experience of the government here when they extended the gross profits tax at 15% (in 2005) was the death knell for any operators onshore.”

There may be some relief in sight for UK online bingo and gaming operators. MP Matt Hancock is introducing a bill that is based on the location of players, not the location of the gaming operator. The bill will be read in Parliament on March 30th of this year. Hancock described his bill and stated “The Bill (would) bring the main offshore gambling platforms onshore by making it illegal for them to accept bets without paying tax and levy. It will be classified as a bet in the UK if that is where the punter is.” For British online bingo operators tax relief can’t come soon enough.

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