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UK – British casino industry urges government rethink on casino stealth tax

By - 24 November 2023

The Betting and Gaming Council has urged the British Chancellor to rethink a stealth tax on land-based casinos, confirmed in the Autumn Statement, which is expected to cost casinos £25m over the next five years.

Under measures announced by the Treasury, Gaming Duty Bands applied to U.K. casinos have been frozen again and will not rise with inflation, effectively creating a £5m annual tax increase across BGC land-based casino members.

There were hopes the freeze, first announced in March, would be abandoned, providing a much-needed boost to a sector which is struggling with rising wages and energy costs plus high inflation.

Currently casinos, a vital pillar of the tourism and hospitality sector, employ more than 10,000 people catering to over 16 million customer visits every year.

They contribute £300m annually in taxes and an estimated £800m a year Gross Value Added to the economy.

But some have struggled to rebound from the pandemic and the current tough economic headwinds, which has seen closures and job losses.

In 2005 there were 160 casinos in the UK – now there are 117. Four casinos have closed in recent months, including Genting owned Crockfords in Mayfair, the oldest casino in the country.

In 2019 casinos employed 13,600 people, which has dropped to less than 10,200 now, a 25 per cent reduction.

Betting and Gaming Council CEO Michael Dugher, said: “Freezing Gaming Duty Bands is a stealth tax which has the potential to slow recovery and weaken future growth. Removing it would have provided a welcome boost for the land-based casino sector at a crucial time.

“Instead, the decision to maintain the status quo represents a missed opportunity for companies ready and able to generate jobs and investment across the country. Right now casinos, which play such a vital role in the tourism and hospitality sector, are waiting for the modest but mission critical policy changes announced in the White Paper.

“It seems short sighted to maintain this stealth tax while failing to make changes that will allow casinos to hire and grow. The BGC urges a re-think so Gaming Duty Bands can be moved with inflation at the next opportunity.”

BGC members combined contribute £7.1bn for the economy, generate £4.2bn in tax while supporting 110,000 jobs.

The BGC is working closely with Government and the regulator to deliver the White Paper, but any changes must not risk driving customers to the unsafe, unregulated gambling black market where the numbers betting have doubled in recent years and the amount wagered is in the billions.

Each month 22.5m adults in Great Britain enjoy a bet, whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, having a game of bingo, visiting a casino, playing online or having a wager on football, horseracing and other sports.

We are encouraged by the latest figures from the NHS Health Survey which showed problem gambling rates are 0.4 per cent of the adult population in England.

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