Bring the Boys Back Home

13 January 2001
United Kingdom Chancellor Gordon Brown is planning to scrap taxes on betting in the U.K. in an effort to prevent the loss of millions of pounds in revenue to online and offshore bookmakers.

The 9 percent betting tax will be nixed and bookmakers will be taxed on profits rather than turnover.

The new policy is conditional, however, on the U.K. bookmakers abandoning their offshore operations and returning to Great Britain.

Customs and Excise is said to be having talks with British bookmakers in hopes of reaching a deal in which the bookmakers agree to return to Great Britain if and when the betting duty there is abolished or revamped. A formal meeting will likely be set up next month.

"We want to agree on a package of measures to make the U.K. the center of global g-commerce (gambling)," Levy Board Bookmakers' Committee Chairman Warwick Bartlett told Panorama. "We think there is an opportunity to increase both jobs and revenue. There is a pent-up demand for people to bet with British bookmakers, like buying Italian clothes or French perfume, because of its unrivalled integrity."

The development is great news for the many bookmakers that have fled Great Britain for tax havens, but, Claire Morgan, press officer for HM Customs & Excise, advises that nothing has been set in stone. "No decision regarding taxation has yet been taken," says Morgan.

A final decision on taxation police will be announce by Brown in the March budget.