Sunday January 27,2013 : UK MINISTER SHOOTS DOWN MP’s ATTEMPT TO IMPOSE ONLINE GAMBLING LEVY
Sports minister Hugh Robertson points out proposed levy could breach European Union state aid rules.
With the UK government already embarked on a secondary licencing and taxation initiative targeting offshore internet gambling operators , a north Yorkshire MP almost complicated the issue last week with a private member's bill proposing the imposition of a levy on offshore operators to help the ailing horse racing industry.
MP Anne McIntosh's proposed additional levy on offshore bookmakers failed last Friday when the government insisted it would breach EU rules.
The Conservative Party member of parliament for Thirsk and Malton brought forward her own Offshore Gambling Bill to regulate remote gambling, arguing it was "crucial for the future of horseracing in the UK".
Her proposal would have required online betting sites used by UK punters to hold a Gambling Commission licence and contribute to the Horserace Betting Levy, a fund to which UK-licensed betting companies already contribute generously if in some cases reluctantly.
McIntosh, whose constituency includes Thirsk racecourse, said: "At the moment, a number of large bookmakers are located overseas and, therefore, are not subject to tax and Levy contributions. A large number of people's livelihoods depend on the industry – particularly in my constituency."
In the Commons, she said her Bill would force bookmakers to set up in the UK, adding: "It is absolutely clear that an unintended consequence of the Gambling Act 2005 was the movement offshore of the major betting operators.
"All it took was for one to move offshore and the others followed. as it became less competitive for the others to remain in the UK."
However, sports minister Hugh Robertson said he could not support the bill, because the levy could breach European Union state aid rules.
"The European Commission would likely consider that the collection of levy contributions from overseas operators would substantially alter the levy, such that it was no longer compliant with state aid," he said, quoting government legal advice.