George Osborne

Government ‘soaking’ of bookmakers will have consequences

George Osborne
George Osborne

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) claims that Chancellor George Osborne’s increase in tax on B2 Gaming Machines to 25% could see 30 per cent of the country’s betting shops in jeopardy.

The organisation said in a statement: “The impact of the new Machine Games Duty (MGD) which came into effect last year and cost the industry an extra £50 million, already casts a shadow over 15,000 jobs and 3,000 betting shops across the country. Increasing the rate to 25% as was announced today, so soon after it was first introduced,  makes a bad policy much worse. This could the cost the industry an extra £75 million. Thirty percent of our shops, and many are small family run businesses, make less than £300 in profit a week. This knee jerk and ill-considered tax raid means their futures are now on the line.”

The ABB added that there was very little justification for the increase on social responsibility grounds: “There has been a lot of debate recently about the machine games we offer in our shops.  An increase in MGD on B2 machines, does absolutely nothing to address the concerns that have been raised, and will have absolutely no impact on levels of problem gambling in the UK – which remain low at 0.5%. ”

It also said that the government has undermined the industry from which it earns more than the businesses themselves: “The licensed bookmaking industry is the only sector in the UK that pays more in tax than it generates in profits. The Government’s desire to continue to soak the industry undermines our ability to continue to support horse and greyhound racing.  It will cost jobs and reduce the investment we can make in the research, education and training that’s needed to tackle problem gambling.”

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