Home NewsCasino BGC accuses UK government of PS5m casino stealth tax raid

BGC accuses UK government of PS5m casino stealth tax raid

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The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has accused the UK government of a stealth tax raid on casinos, which it says could cost the industry PS5m (EUR5.7m/$6.2m) per year.

The claim relates to the freezing of gaming duty bands outlined in Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement. In a statement, the BGC said that those within the land-based casino sector had hoped the bands would rise with inflation, after being frozen in March.

The BGC said the freeze in gaming duty bands effectively creates a PS25m tax increase for casinos over the next five years. Urging a rethink from Hunt, the BGC said a freeze in duty bands would help a sector that is struggling with rising wages and high inflation.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, posited that the “stealth tax” has the potential to slow recovery and weaken future growth.

“Removing it would have provided a welcome boost for the land-based casino sector at a crucial time,” he said. “Instead, the decision to maintain the status quo represents a missed opportunity for companies ready and able to generate jobs and investment across the country.”

Casinos awaiting positive impact of gambling reform

The BGC noted that casinos contribute PS300m annually in taxes. Across the entire economy, the sector provides an estimated PS800m a year in gross value.

However, casinos have been hit hard by challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis. The BGC noted that four casinos have closed in recent months, while the sector employs 25% fewer workers than just four years ago. One in four casinos have closed since 2005, with just 117 remaining across the country.

The BGC has broadly backed the government’s gambling white paper, notably in relation to casino reform. The white paper includes proposals on affordability checks, sports betting and machine numbers.

“Right now, casinos, which play such a vital role in the tourism and hospitality sector, are waiting for the modest but mission critical policy changes announced in the white paper,” Dugher added.

“It seems short-sighted to maintain this stealth tax while failing to make changes that will allow casinos to hire and grow. The BGC urges a re-think so gaming duty bands can be moved with inflation at the next opportunity.”

Government could unify remote gambling tax

In further news from the autumn statement, the chancellor said the government will soon consult on bringing remote gambling under one tax, as opposed to the current three-tax structure.

Chancellor Hunt’s plan is that the government will consult “shortly” on proposals to change the structure of remote gambling taxation.

It defines remote gambling as being “gambling offered over the internet, telephone, TV and radio”.

The consultation would discuss getting rid of the three-tax structure, which is made up of remote gaming duty, general betting duty and pool betting duty.

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