The HM Treasury’s Autumn Statement revealed on November 22nd that the gross gaming yield bands surrounding casino establishments will be subject to a freeze that will last from April 1st, 2024, to March 31st, 2025. In a statement issued November 23rd, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) referred to this measure as a “stealth tax” and asked the government to reconsider its implementation. According to the BGC, the freeze will serve as an annual tax of £5 million, which will further burden the already struggling land-based casino industry.
Plans to apply a freeze on gaming duty bands were first disclosed in March 2023, but industry players had hoped they would fall through. Michael Dugher, CEO of the BGC, put an emphasis on how the removal of the stealth tax would have given the sector a “much-needed boost.” Noting how the freeze will affect casinos negatively, he urged the government to introduce changes that would allow gaming yield bands to move with inflation.
The Autumn Statement also included information on the government’s intention to unite remote gambling taxes, which currently have a three-tax structure, into a single tax. The BGC did not comment on this in its Wednesday statement, however.
Casinos Play a Crucial Role in the UK Economy
The BGC underscored how over 10,000 individuals are currently employed at UK-based casinos, with such establishments being crucial for the tourism and hospitality sector. An emphasis was also placed on the fact that each year, the economy benefits from £300 million in taxes from the gaming industry. As the sector is currently being impacted by the energy crisis, wage increases, and inflation, however, the lack of a freeze on gaming duty bands would have given the industry a chance to recover from these challenges and the problems that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BGC went on to highlight how the gaming sector has struggled in recent years, with the number of operating casinos having decreased by 40+ since 2005. Moreover, the gaming sector now employs 25% fewer people than the 13,600 figure of 2019. The government’s gaming duty bands freeze will add to the land-based gaming sector’s struggles, with estimated costs having the potential to reach £25 million in total over the next five years.
As for the total contribution of BGC members toward the economy, the combined figure stands at £7.1 billion, with the tax generation reaching £4.2 billion. In terms of employment, 110,000 jobs are currently supported by BGC members.
The BGC expressed its determination to work with the government on the proposals made in its gambling white paper. However, it was also stressed that care should be taken in making sure that the changes will not force customers to turn to unregulated gambling, which poses a risk to their safety. Recent years have seen black market betting double, with billions of pounds’ worth of illegal bets being placed by UK gamblers.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.