UK Chancellor Overplays Hand with Big Raise on Gaming Duty
By Marianne Lambert
Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced heavy increases on gaming duty in yesterday’s budget. Many online gambling companies operating from tax havens in Gibraltar, Malta, Alderney and Cyprus, are not expected to return under these conditions.

What the budget means:

• The 2.5% starting band of gaming duty has been scrapped.

• Remote gambling will not be liable for VAT

• 15% remote gaming duty on companies moving from offshore to the UK

• 50% tax band for casino operators with revenues above £10m

Last year the Treasury earned £175 million from gambling duties. It has estimated an extra £35 million will be added from the new rates, even excluding money from the 17 new casinos planned. One industry insider commented that a license fee would have made more sense.

Damian Aspinall, of Aspinalls casino in Mayfair, London, said, 'It's insane. They spend years deregulating the industry and then overtax it.'

The Remote Gambling Association said it was disappointed that the UK had effectively priced itself out of the online gambling market and 'missed a real opportunity to lead the way in terms of international regulatory standards.'

However, Chief Executive Clive Hawkswood did acknowledge that it wasn’t all bad news. “The VAT issue was the scary one, but it has been put to bed for now.”

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