UK online gambling operators risk being overtaken by European rivals because the Government fails to understand the importance of competitive gambling tax, according to a leading industry figure.
Warwick Bartlett (pictured), a gambling industry consultant and former chairman of the Bookmakers Committee, says the UK Government’s tax policy for gambling companies has gone “horribly wrong”.
His comments come as he prepares to launch a global gaming report, called Change is on the Cards, later this week.
The report, from his consultancy Global Betting & Gaming Consultants, predicts that a Europe-wide gambling policy will be implemented. This will mean that players are taxed under the laws of the country they live in rather than the country the operator is based in.
The report, due to be unveiled at the International Gaming Expo at Earl’s Court, says that while an agreed Europe-wide measure would create a substantial increase in market growth, it is likely to be matched by increasing overheads as governments take steps to gain control over the industry.
Bartlett, who also sits on the Horse Racing Betting Levy Board, says UK operators have seen their online presence diminish relative to those operating offshore. He says this was “inevitable” following government failure to impose a competitive tax rate.
The report claims that UK companies will continue to lose market share, and points to an existing deal between the Government and operators that allows the repatriation of UK sports betting websites from offshore so as to achieve gross profits tax as being “unsustainable”. It says foreign websites are able to reinvest the tax saving in their offering and “scoop” the market.