PracticeAccounting FirmsMid-tier gamble may pay out.

Mid-tier gamble may pay out.

Online gambling has been touted as a future revenue stream for mid-tier auditing firms, because the Big Four have shied away from a sector that will grow to $8bn (£4.25bn) this year.

Deloitte, the firm with the strongest gambling division following its acquisition of Andersen, has not taken as strong a grip on the online gambling world, according to David Schollenberger, a partner at City law firm Charles Russell.

He said the work had been swept up by the mid-tier and, in particular, Baker Tilly.

Mark Holland, partner and head of the IT advisory group at Baker Tilly, agreed the sector offers huge opportunities and confirmed that the Big Four seem to be giving it a wide berth. ‘It is an area that we see has significant growth potential,’ said Holland.

That growth is likely to be boosted further as the government draws ever closer to finalising the gambling bill, which finished in the House of Commons on Monday.

A spokesman for industry regulator, the UK Gaming Board, said the bill would allow online casinos to be hosted in the UK for the first time. ‘We would like (online casinos) to come here and we will make it possible,’ he said.

The growth and continuing maturity of the online gaming sector was illustrated late last year when SportingBet acquired Paradise Poker for $297.5m, Holland said.

It is hoped that the gambling bill will be completed during this session of parliament.

The House of Lords is expected to call for the bill in February. It will then be passed back to the Commons for late amendments.

The government has watered down the initial gaming bill following intense political and media pressure, much to the anger of the big international gaming firms.

Deloitte was unable to comment by the time that Accountancy Age went to press.

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