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UK Gambling outside racecourses is claimed to
have multiplied fivefold since Gordon Brown abolished betting tax in
September 2001. That does not mean that the Chancellor was aiming to
Reform was a pragmatic response to rapid growth in offshore gambling
via the internet. Taxed betting was disappearing fast, leaching revenue
and putting anyone stuck onshore, such as high street betting shops, at
a disadvantage. By replacing betting tax with a tax on gross profits,
the Chancellor bowed to the inevitable, restored competition and set up
a more solid revenue base.
In fiscal terms, this reform deserves a small mention in the
textbook. It supported revenue while freeing the industry, leading to a
strong expansion. Most people do not think gambling should be
encouraged, however, so the beneficent effect of removing the tax
distortion of markets did not earn much applause outside the industry.
This weeks Gambling Bill also responds to the growth of online,
offshore gambling. Not surprisingly, it has also polarised opinion.
Supporters see it as a pragmatic measure that sets basic standards,
focuses consumer protection on children, highlights the perils of
addiction but generally adopts the principle of caveat punter.
Opponents see liberalisation, particularly permission for Las
Vegas-style casinos across the country, as a formula to turn Britain
into an island gambling hell.
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2004 Online Casino News Archive