Changes in French law which came into affect on 13th May 2010 have meant that online (internet) gambling has been outlawed in that country and its dependencies. So what, some of you may ask? The fact that France have decided to close the internet gambling loophole suggests that it won't be long before other nations make their own legislation to do the same. The US has long been an opponent to internet gambling sites that are based outside their territorial boundaries. And the reason for the opposition? Tax.
Like him or loath him, Gordon Brown’s decision back in 2001 to free betting from tax in this country was a major coup not only for the punters, but for the coffers of the Inland Revenue. It has stimulated the tremendous growth in turnover (and profits) of the betting exchanges and traditional bookmakers who were able (due to their unique position within world sport) to take advantage of the complete lack of gambling opportunities for punters throughout the rest of the world on sport.
I’m surprised that nations haven’t been quicker in closing the tax loopholes afforded by internet gambling. I believe the “leanest” government run tote monopoly is that run by the Hong Kong Jockey Club which strips out 11% of turnover returning 89% of stakes back to the punters. Other nations are not so generous with the pay-back, and I believe some nations retain over 25% of stakes placed. And the tote monopolies exist in the main only on horse-racing and dog-racing – there are few outlets (outside the UK) for gambling on football, tennis, snooker, darts and other international sporting events. Thanks to Gordon Brown, Britain’s tax coffers are boosted by a 15% tax on bookmakers gross profits which must be hugely increased by income from outside the shores of the UK – tax revenue which is being denied to the host nations of those international gamblers.
Surely, it cannot be long before other nations in Europe and Asia follow France’s lead. It would also not surprise me to see some form of direct taxation return to gambling in this country. Gambling is a very easy target for a cash-strapped government; it’s not a necessity but is pure luxury, if you can afford to lose it then you can certainly afford to pay tax on it.
Yes, Gordon Brown did us proud back in 2001, and he was ably supported by Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, who wrote a racing column for the Glasgow Herald. Are there any supporters of the gambling man in the current government?