HMRC reveals gambling receipts did not meet expectations for 2020/2021

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced that gambling revenue for the 2020/2021 financial year fell below expectations, largely due to the economic impact of national lockdowns.

Total tax receipts registered from April 2020 to March 2021 totalled £2.83 billion – a drop of £182 million or 6% when compared to 2019/2020 fiscal duties – attributed to COVID-19 lockdowns enforcing the closure of retail betting and gaming venues from March 2020 onwards.

HMRC also noted that the performance of the betting industry had been affected by ‘cancellation of several sporting events due to the coronavirus pandemic’.

Detailing the ‘provisional’ National Statistics on UK Gambling, HMRC outlined that Betting Duties accounted for total receipts of £604 million, up 2% on 2019/2020 results of £591 million – with 98.4% allocated from General Betting Duties covering remote and retail wagers.

However, a shift from retail to online betting and gaming led to HMRC recording a 25% increase in tax receipts from Remote Gaming Duties (RGD), an increase of £179 million to £885 million.

RGD accounted for 31% of total industry revenue, with its increased tax duties recorded against a 44% decline in Machine Gaming Duties (MGD) to £282 million as well as an even larger decline in land-based Gaming Duties (GD) of 62% to £79 million.

“Increases in RGD against previous financial years are potentially due to gamblers utilising online services in lockdown more so than they would if betting shops, bingo halls and other gambling premises were open as normal,” HMRC detailed in a statement.

Of the various sectors of the UK’s betting and gaming industry, Lottery Duty (LD) proved to be the highest income generator for HMRC, recording provisional receipts of £980 million, up £12 million on 2019/2020 results, marking an increase of 1%.

It was noted that Lottery Duties had remained stable against previous financial years despite the economic headwinds of the coronavirus pandemic, registering receipts of £101 million in February 2021 alone.

Despite the drop in total UK gambling revenue for HMRC, some betting operators have reported strong starts to 2021, with companies such as 888 highlighting successes in first quarter trading reports.

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