Racing to stop betting tax losses

Tax experts have urged the government to slash gaming duties to prevent an irreversible loss of revenue due to an emerging trend to take telephone gambling offshore.

The call followed Ladbroke’s decision to offer offshore telephone betting in an attempt to avoid betting duty.

The betting shop chain said it was forced to move following the decision by independent bookmaker Victor Chandler to move betting business from London to Gibraltar earlier this year.

KPMG head of tax Ian Barlow, who is also chairman of the British Horseracing Board tax committee, said going offshore would have a knock-on effect on how the government raises taxes from gambling. ‘The question is will the government do anything about it,’ Barlow said. ‘The thing to do to counter offshore betting would be to lower the gaming duty.’

The Irish government slashed its gaming duty from 10% to 5% in an effort to keep betting onshore for events such as the Solario Stakes at Sandown Park (above). The UK rate is 9%.

UK government statistics suggest that general betting duty receipts – those gained from traditional betting outlets – have increased by 2% in the first half of this year.

A Customs & Excise spokeswoman said: ‘We are aware of what is going on offshore, and will keep an eye on it. However, we are not planning any official review.’

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