To widespread industry chagrin, UK chancellor Phillip Hammond is planning to increase taxes on offshore gambling companies, but are the changes so bad?
The Duty Raise
Going into effect later this month, the budget calls for an increase in the remote gaming duty on overseas operators offering online casino games such as blackjack.
Government aides estimate the impending measure would raise in the neighbourhood of £1 billion over five years.
Spurred by FOBT Crackdown
Those gains would ostensibly fill the hole left by a recent crack down on physical fixed-odds betting terminals at UL land-based bookmakers.
The summer crackdown was designed to address problem gambling with a cut in maximum FOBT stake from £100 to £2 after data revealed that gamblers were losing thousands of pounds a day by betting up to £100 every 20 seconds online on roulette and other rapid high stakes play.
The increased duty is one of a series of revenue-raising measures being introduced October 29, with the key duty to lift the remote gaming duty from its current level of 15 per cent of Gross Gambling Yield to 20-25 per cent.
The Stock of Gibraltar
At this point, prominent UK operators such as Labrokes and William Hill have already set up online operations in Gibraltar, giving operators another jurisdiction in which to operate if things in the UK sour.
To combat problem gambling and potentially stifle operators further, the government is launching a multi-million pound responsible gambling ad campaign while Public Health England conducts an evidence review of gambling's damage to public health.
Age Limit Reviews
As a further protective measures, ministers are also reviewing changes to the age limit for National Lottery for the next round of licencing, while ordered the Gambling Commission to increase protections including stronger age-verification rules.
Remote Gaming Duty Origin
The remote gaming duty originated in 2014 to formally require any operator taking bets from UK-based customers to be licensed by the Gambling Commission. The licencing program was originally expected to raise £300 million a year, with the figure now reaching twice that level.
The UK is of course the leading gaming market in Europe, if not the world. Operators have long considered UK the haven for advancing gaming and operating freely and profitably. This round of adaptations establishes that the UK government is to put aside the interests of operators long enough to focus on the citizens that licencing was designed to protect.