William Hill odds-on to move offshore.
Betting chain William Hill has threatened to move more of its UK operation offshore if chancellor Gordon Brown fails to help the betting industry in March’s Budget. The bookmaker has followed the recent trend in moving to offshore telephone and online operations, which enable punters to avoid the 6.75% tax currently levied on bets. Representatives of William Hill – which like other bookmakers has installed England (above) as overwhelming favourites to win the Grand Slam in this year’s Six Nations championship – lobbied Treasury officials last week. The company wants to see the tax rate cut to 3%. However, the Treasury is thought to be worried that offering concessions to the betting industry could lead to similar calls from those advocating lower duty on tobacco and alcohol products. Bookmakers argue that with betting tax at current levels, foreign operators will find it easy to corner large parts of the UK market. A William Hill spokesman said a complete withdrawal from the UK was unlikely. But he said the company would continue to develop its offshore telephone and Internet services if the government fails to make concessions to the industry.