Taxman cashes in on virtual gambling
The taxman may soon be gambling on raising real revenue from virtual casinos on the Internet. Bookies can already accept bets by email, putting at risk betting tax where bets are placed via offshore websites.
The Gaming Board is now considering a change in the law to allow Internet casinos, with electronic versions of blackjack and chemin de fer, in a bid to prevent a haemorrhage of gaming tax revenue overseas.
The tax authorities are coming to terms with the Internet, facing up to the difficulties of monitoring electronic trade and securing a percentage for the state.
The issue has been raised in the annual report of the Gaming Board, which claims Internet gambling has yet to gain widespread popularity.
It suggests concerns over slow response times, security in money transmission, game fixing and collecting winnings are holding many gamblers back.
But some problems are being overcome and Internet use is growing rapidly.
The government earns more than ?m a year in gaming duty from casinos, bingo, one-arm bandits and electronic equivalents.