Thanks Philip! No betting industry tax hike but industry faces tough 2018 context

The UK betting industry breathes a sigh of relief, as Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has detailed no industry tax hike for the governments annual budget.

Prior to yesterday’s budget presentation, a number of industry stakeholders had outlined concerns regarding further taxes being demanded from the UK betting sector.

At Lunchtime, Hammond would present Commons a budget ‘designed to help Britain’s younger workers’, with the Chancellor abolishing UK Stamp Duty for first-time property buyers up to £300,000, presented as Hammond’s key proposal.

With Brexit dominating the UK political and business agenda, the Chancellor has ‘revised down’ UK productivity, and growth with UK GDP forecasts downgraded to 1.4% from 2018, 1.3% and 1.5% in subsequent years.

For UK alcohol, tobacco and gambling sectors, the government has detailed a soft hand approach. Tobacco will be priced at 2% above ‘retail-price-index’ inflation. While the government has chosen only to increase taxes on cheap ‘high strength’ alcohol, which the UK press has referred to a ‘white ciders tax’.

Though the UK betting sector has escaped a nasty Christmas surprise, all industry commentators believe that 2018 will be a year of further industry regulation and change.

Yesterday the UK Competitions & Markets Authority (CMA) issued an industry warning, demanding that stakeholders alter their bonus terms and conditions, to avoid future punishments.

The governances of FTSE-listed operators are currently awaiting the UK governments triennial review judgement on FOBTs wagering levels and industry advertising standards, which has been moved to a further ’12-week consultation period’.

Following a 2017 featuring some high-profile industry compliance and social responsibility failures, industry stakeholders are in accordance that the UK government will likely take a tougher stance on the sector with regards to its revenue channels and operating standards.

Rumour is rife within the betting sector, with regards to how its bigger operators handle tougher business regulations. Industry analysts and investors weigh up whether 2018 will see another paradigm of M&A activity triggered by panic, pressure or desire for growth.

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