Monday April 7,2014 : BRIT BOOKIES APPEAL TO P.M.
Changes to tax and regulations too costly.
Against a backdrop of media reports claiming that a UK government clampdown on bookies is shaping up , the Association of British Bookmakers wrote to prime minister David Cameron Monday, warning that heavy taxation and regulatory changes could put hundreds of jobs in the industry at risk.
The letter claims that changes to tax and regulations on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals would cost the industry GBP 350 million a year and put more than 2,000 betting shops out of business.
In last month's Budget, Chancellor George Osborn announced that taxation on the machines will rise to 25 percent of their takings, up from 20 percent next year, costing bookmakers around GBP 75 million a year.
In addition, the government now has reservations about voluntary warnings introduced by bookmakers last month, and wants to make these tougher and mandatory, perhaps being integrated with licensing conditions.
"We have asked the Gambling Commission to consider whether the GBP 250 and 30 minute limits before a pop-up message appears are too high and too long," said a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, referring to measures brought in by bookmakers voluntarily a month ago.
"We want a successful gambling industry but not at the expense of player protection and will announce our plans on this soon," the spokesman added.
Allied to the point-of-consumption tax on remote gambling operators accessing the British punter, the new developments are creating more pressure on bookies to cut costs.
Top bookies like William Hill and Ladbrokes say there is no evidence to support claims that FOBTs are causing an increase in problem gambling.
The Reuters news agency reports that the Association of British Bookmakers letter emphasised that the industry had cooperated with the government on concerns over FOBTs.
"This dialogue has made the unexpected and punitive measures recently announced in the Budget, even more difficult to comprehend," said the letter, signed by industry figures including the chief executives of William Hill, Ladbrokes and Ireland's Paddy Power.
"It is often forgotten that we are the only sector that pays more in tax than we make in profit and contribute GBP 1 billion to the Exchequer," it added.