BETTING AND GAMING COUNCIL WARN AGAINST NEW TREASURY MEASURE BECOMING ‘TROJAN HORSE’ TO RAISE TAXES
STANDARDS body the Betting and Gaming Council has urged the Chancellor against using a proposed new gambling tax simplification measure to further raise taxes which will threaten sports including horse racing.
In the Autumn Statement, the Government confirmed it will consult on new proposals to bring remote betting into a single tax, replacing the current three-tax structure.
General betting duty and pool betting duty are set at 15 per cent of operator profits, but remote gaming duty, levied on games of chance such as online casino, is set at 21 per cent.
Any hike in betting duty would likely lead to lower margins on racing, fewer offers for punters and less funding to sponsor and promote the sport.
The tax threat comes as revenues are already being stretched by so-called affordability checks on customers, plans to replace the current voluntary levy with a new statutory levy to fund Research, Education and Treatment to tackle gambling related harm and spiraling costs for betting operators to support horse racing.
Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “Any further new tax rises could be a hammer blow for horse racing’s finances, which are already threatened thanks to measures proposed by the Government in the recent white paper.
“This is a sport which relies heavily on betting operators for its success and yet the Government appears determined to draft in measures which shrink the industry with huge ramifications for other sectors, like horse racing.
“What’s worse, the Treasury didn’t bother to consult or even inform DCMS, which is the department responsible for betting and racing. It seems they are high on tax but low on joined up government.
“There are genuine fears that any so-called simplification of the current tax structure will be nothing more than a Trojan Horse to further raise taxes on businesses.
“This has the potential to risk jobs and investment, and undermine the competitiveness of British horse racing on the global stage, placing its rich history and heritage in peril.
“We were promised an Autumn Statement that would deliver growth – the only thing growing is the list of worries for the betting and horse racing industries”.
The proposed new tax simplification plan comes soon after the Government’s White Paper, published in April, which included measures that will cost online operators in excess of £895m in Gross Gambling Yield.
And comes as bookmakers are preparing to make a record contribution to horse racing next year – with the bill for media rights forecast to increase by nearly £30m.
The Betting and Gaming Council’s five biggest members for horse race betting, Entain, Flutter, bet365, 888/William Hill and Betfred, expect to see a record cost increase to broadcast races.
In 2022, BGC members paid £270.1m for the rights to live stream races for customers and show them in bookmakers.
But that cost is forecast to rise to £285.3m this year, an increase of 5.6 per cent, with members estimating a further increase to £315.2m in 2024, a further bump of 10.5 per cent.
The forecast costs come after the BGC announced their members directly contributed £384m to British horse racing last year in levy, media rights and sponsorship deals.
In addition, bookmakers spent £125m on marketing to promote racing and betting through advertisements and partnerships.
Horse racing is the second biggest sport in the UK, second only to football, with more than five million people attending around 1,400 fixtures annually across 59 racecourses.
However, its popularity is in decline. In 2007, 17 per cent of the population participated in horse race betting in the previous year, but that fell to 10 per cent in 2018.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has committed to reviewing the Horseracing Levy by next year.
The Horseracing Levy, which is administered by the Horserace Betting Levy Board, goes towards improving the sport, breeding and boosting veterinary care.
Betting operators are working closely with the British Horseracing Authority and racing stakeholders on much needed reforms to the fixture list and race programme which should increase commercial returns from the levy and media rights.
Betting shops support 42,000 jobs on the UK’s hard-pressed high streets, generating £800 million a year in tax to the Treasury and another £60m in business rates to local councils.
But this contribution is under threat, the combined impacts of recent regulatory reforms and Covid lockdowns have forced the closure of over 2,000 shops with the loss of 10,000 jobs since 2019.
The wider regulated betting and gaming industry contributes £7.1bn to the economy, generates £4.2bn in tax and supports 110,000 jobs.
The BGC has repeatedly warned changes to the regulated betting and gaming sector by the Government must not risk forcing customer to the unsafe gambling black market online.
A study by PWC showed the number of customers using an unlicensed betting website has grown from 210,000 to 460,000 and billions is being staked.
Each month in Great Britain around 22.5m adults have a bet and the most recent NHS Health Survey for England estimated that 0.4 per cent of the adult population are problem gamblers.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Betting and Gaming Council is the standards body representing over 90 per cent of the regulated betting and gaming industry in the UK, including bookmakers, casinos and bingo and online betting.
Further Info – David Willetts – 07827 254217