During the Budget Speech yesterday the Chancellor George Osborne announced that UK licensed operators will soon have to pay a new tax on ‘free bet’ offers on online casino and bingo games.
This is subject to the motion being approved, and should it be it will come into effect on August 1st 2017. This will mean that operators must pay a 15% tax on all these types of bets.
These ‘free bets’ had previously been excluded from the 2014 online tax and will be a blow to operators who regularly use free spins and bonus credits as a means to ensure customer acquisition and retention. The one saving grace is the timeline as operators will have 17 months to rethink and plan a strategy.
One gambling industry subject which was expected to be discussed in the Budget was that of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). These FOBTs have been the cause of extensive criticism across the mainstream press and online due to the amount of them, their addictive nature and high maximum betting limits.
There was no mention by Osborne of any new tax or increased regulation on operators in regard to these machines.