Britain's 'New Era' of Sports Betting Commences

8 October 2001
The long-awaited abolishment of Great Britain's 9 percent betting duty, which came into effect Saturday, has been met by British bookmakers with great enthusiasm.

In addition to the landmark event, a crucial World Cup soccer match for England boosted business for the country's betting operators.

Leading bookmaking companies reported betting increases of 20 percent above typical numbers. Officials from Ladbrokes predict that there could be as much as a 30 percent increase in betting turnover for the year.

Coral Eurobet spokesman Simon Clare told Ananova that their phones were "red hot" over the weekend.

Paul Boateng, financial secretary to the U.K. Treasury, called the abolition of betting duty the "start of a new era for betting in Britain."

He added, "Tax-free betting is great news for punters, but the benefits go much wider than that. These reforms will allow Britain's betting industry to become a world leader in the international betting market. And as the bookmakers' turnover increases, racing and government revenues will share in the benefits."

Most betting firms are equally as enthusiastic about the likely changes resulting from the abolition of the 35-year-old betting duty. Several pointed out Friday that taxation reforms could benefit not only British punters, but also the British economy.

William Hill Chief Executive David Harding said that his company will create up to 1,000 new jobs if projected business levels are achieved. He added, "We are confident that the government's willingness to support our industry will be richly rewarded."

Ladbrokes Worldwide, which along with William Hill is one of England's biggest bookmakers, has beefed up its staff by 10 percent in anticipation of increased business.

Like several of its competitors, the company has repatriated most of its workforce from offshore locations back to England.

The change in taxation has also inspired a number of firms, such as and, to launch new services from the United Kingdom rather than offshore.

Other companies are working to meet the U.K. regulatory requirements in preparation of returning to British soil, the Treasury reported.

Treasury officials explained that a number of changes have been made to the reporting system so that even smaller bookmakers will benefit from the taxation changes. Firms with an annual turnover less than £600,000 will be allowed to account for tax on a quarterly basis, while larger firms will be reporting their profits monthly. This move, the Treasury said, will reduce costs and improved cash flow for smaller bookmaking firms.

Financial spread betting firms and other bookmakers reporting financial difficulties may be able to use this option as well.

Despite the hoopla surrounding this weekend's new taxation structure, however, Harding inserted a note of caution.

"Remember the basis of recycling theory is that punters will lose the same amount of money, but just have more and/or bigger bets with the money they save on tax. Hence, the increase in turnover," he said. "It's not new money, just the same as we would have got anyway, but turning over a few more times."

Customers have been able to bet tax-free with most telephone and Internet betting services for a while. In the end, most of the increase in betting will be seen by betting shops, Harding pointed out, where punters can enjoy "the anonymity of cash betting and the camaraderie of the shop."

He added, "The bottom line impact will be favorable in the shops, but negative on telephone and Internet, which used to be offshore, but will now pay duty."

The 9 percent tax that customers were paying on each winning bet was replaced by a corporate tax on company profits.