Next Week (Monday 29 October) will see all the debate come to an end as Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers the UK Budget 2018, with industry expectations firmly set to see a significant remote gaming duty (RGD) increase.
Representing the third online gambling tax constraint imposed by the government since 2014, following point-of-consumption (POC-2014) and Industry Free-Play taxes (2016), 20 and 25 per cent are the figures long mooted by figures throughout the industry.
The government is seeking the plug the approximate £450m FOBTs tax hole via a +20 percent RGD charge, brought about as a result of the Department for Digital, Media, Culture & Sport’s (DCMS) confirmation that FOBTs wagering would be cut from £100 to £2.
That too is also thought to be under the microscope once again come next week, with news outlets reporting a delay in implementing the mandatory cut, which was thought to come into effect in April 2019, until October of next year.
Such discussions were raised at length during this year’s CasinoBeats Summit, held at Olympia London as part of the wider Betting on Sports Week, with Clive Hawkswood, chief executive officer at the Remote Gambling Association, stating that the group had put into plan open dialogues with the Treasury.
Seeking to ‘mitigate the certain reality of a UK online gambling tax hike,’ Hawkswood commented: “In our communications with Treasury officials and ministers, we are focused on implementation times and securing an exact tax rate. We are engaged with Ernst & Young to run analysis on the matter, looking to find out what’s the gap left by FOBTs.
“In terms of rates, the big fear is that the Treasury implements a 25% tax hike, let’s remember that they do like their round numbers”
Looking to be a voice of calm Steven Effingham, Director of Tax Policy at Ernst & Young, spoke out, what he believes is apart division regarding a FOBT cut: “To me, the interesting aspect of this whole debate is that it’s pretty clear that the Treasury did not want to do the stake cut. Even in the public coverage, the Chancellor, openly tried to delay the announcement, seeking to halt the DCMS bandwagon.”
James Myles, an industry analyst at ETA Delta, on the other hand, pointed to the all-around dire consequences that could be felt as a result of an RGD tax hike even hitting 20 per cent: “There doesn’t seem to be any reason for industry incumbents to spend a third more money on duty. This tax rise, driven off the back of FOBTs, marks the government’s incompetence to have made its decision without recognising the huge amount of money it will lose.”
Tracey Crouch, the minister overseeing gambling has underlined that an increase in online taxes is needed ‘in order to secure government finances, and to protect the funding of vital public services’.
Asked if the ‘battle has been lost already?’ Hawkswood added: “There is really no time for a grieving process, anyone who deals with the government recognises that fairness does not come into play… you might as well shout at the moon”.