UK Free Bet Tax Cancelled, But for How Long?

Lee R. - May 1, 2017

If the conservative British government wins as expected, more taxes could be incoming.

The UK has actually cancelled a scheduled operator fee--but not for long, according to experts.

Tax Off

To the delight of UK-facing operators, those offering free to play bets and spins to UK players will not have to pay a scheduled incoming tax as a result of the UK government’s cancellation of a new bill scheduled for August implementation.

No Time Now

The announcement comes as a result of the lack of availability Parliament acknowledged for addressing the full scope of issues and implementation necessary with a new general election coming up after Parliamentary dissolution scheduled for May 3rd.

Stunning Reversal

The removal of the tax from this year’s Finance Bill reverses the December 2016 Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) pronouncement of a tax on all free bets and discounted bets offered by online gambling operators that at the time was projected to cost operators an estimated £5 million to £10 to operators annually.

Conservative Wave

Observers believe the tax scheme is likely to be reintroduced for more serious review if the conservative government is re-elected in June following the general election, which would in that case likely bring the tax scheme back in 2018.

All in All

Thus, online gambling operators in the UK can realistically expect one sure final year of tax-free free bet offers before some kind of tax kicks in 2018.   

Momentum Against

What is known is that HMRC likely will continue to look into new measures for Finance Bills that change regulations regarding free bets, free plays and discounted betting.

Expert Opinion

While the government does not believe there is enough time to sufficiently examine changes in time for this year, Cenkos Securities head Simon French of Cenkos Securities believes changes could still take place, saying Cenkos “ not believe this signals any change in stance in government's view towards the gambling industry...”


In general, operators should hedge against the possibility of the tax, as the Conservative government after Brexit appears likely to win, a sign of the time in Britain which might mean more regulation taxes on operators in the future. 

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