12/31/09 – The respected Guardian newspaper in Britain this week considered the adverse impact of new UK tax provisions on poker operators that could be so severe as to effectively kill interest in providing the game.
Writer Victoria Coren, herself a skilled and experienced poker player as well as a senior journalist, looked ahead to 2010 in an article that postulated a serious risk that regular games will die before the end of the new year.
Coren examined the case of the card room at the Victoria Casino in London, which she described as the headquarters of British poker.
"Local rivals come and go, but can never truly compete – or couldn't, until the government interfered," writes Coren.
"The 2009 spring budget introduced a stupid, greedy, ill-thought-out change to the tax rules. Casinos always paid full tax on their table games, but Valued Added Tax only on poker. That's because poker was a "service" rather than a "business" – at the Vic (or similar outfits) customers play against each other, not the house, paying only a small hourly fee for table hire.
"The budget ignored this, slapping a full tax rate on poker as well. The money raised will be too small to affect the nation's finances: it's just big enough to cripple the Vic. It has cost them an extra million (GBP) so far this year. If poker is as expensive for them as roulette, while being so much less lucrative, why should they bother to keep having it?"
Coren goes on to urge the poker playing public to write their political representatives and the Chancellor of the Exchequer [finance minister] demanding that the punitive tax be removed to preserve the game and the companies that offer it.