UK Gambling Industry in the News — Weekly Round-up for November 02, 2018

Fast Response To UK Football Association’s Proposed Levy On Gambling Companies (Update)

Remote Gaming Association slams suggestion that gambling companies should be paying FA a levy on bets

The suggestion earlier this week by Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn that a levy be imposed on gambling companies to help support grassroots English football (see previous InfoPowa report) has been met with a decidedly negative response from operators who are already feeling the pinch of tax, compliance and regulatory costs.

Clive Hawkswood, CEO of the trade body Remote Gaming Association which represents most major UK betting companies said Friday there was “no basis whatsoever” for payments to “support what most people would consider to be an extremely wealthy sport”.

Hawkswood told The Telegraph newspaper, where the topic of a levy on bets had first appeared: “The British betting industry already pays for the use of football’s intellectual property rights, not least through contractual arrangements with Football DataCo.

“Alongside that significant funds flow from the betting to the football industries through a range of commercial partnerships such as sponsorship, advertising and joint ventures.

“If the football authorities wish to use some of those funds to support grassroots football then that is an option they might consider, but there is no basis whatsoever for the introduction of a statutory betting levy to support what most people would consider to be an extremely wealthy sport.”

The independent responsible gaming body Senet Group also opposed the idea of a levy, with chairperson Gillian Wilmot expressing concern at the large amounts of cash which flow to English football from the gambling industry.

“We should be very concerned about protecting young people, particularly young men, and vulnerable people,” she said, warning that additional levies on operators could threaten the current voluntary levy many betting companies raise to help prevent gambling addiction and support existing addicts.

“That money needs to go to prevention of any gambling addiction and treatment of those who become addicted, it can’t go anywhere else,” she said. “That must go to preventing problem gambling and also treating those who become addicted, and that’s only right.”

UK Gambling Commission figures for 2015-2016 show that bookmakers made GBP 333.4million in profits from bets placed on the football in Britain.

Exchequer Confirms Remote Gambling Tax Hike (Update)

To offset tax losses resulting from lowering FOBT stake limits

As expected, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has announced a hike in remote gaming duty from 15 percent to 21 percent (see previous InfoPowa reports) from January 2019.

“I can confirm that we will increase Remote Gaming Duty on online games of chance, to 21 percent in order to fund the loss of revenue as we reduce FOBT stakes to 2 pounds,” Hammond announced in parliament today (Monday).

Gaming industry brokerage, RB Capital, predicts the tax hike will spark a second wave of large-scale mergers and acquisitions as soon as the first quarter of next year.

“Today’s rate rise will only mean one thing: that life will get tougher for smaller operators and they will either be forced to downsize UK operations, shift market focus elsewhere or sell to the highest bidder,” Julian Buhagiar, co-founder of RB Capital, said.

Will UK Minister Quit Due To FOBT Delay?

Tracey Crouch getting an abundance of on air and print publicity

A report in the UK newspaper The Telegraph that the government’s junior culture minister, Tracey Crouch, has threatened to resign over delays in the implementation of a new law restricting Fixed Odds Betting Terminal stakes to a GBP 2 maximum is currently receiving wide coverage in the UK on air and in print media.

The row is over the announcement in yesterday’s budget speech that the changes will be implemented in October 2019 rather than sooner. Crouch and former Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, were both zealous supporters of the cuts, and Crouch was reportedly furious at the decision to implement in October next year rather than April.

Crouch, who is out of the country at present, has not commented directly on the Telegraph report, and government spokesmen have explained that the decision was “a balance between making sure we protect those who work in the industry and making sure that we bring in this really important change.”

Predictably, the opposition Labour Party has attacked the government on the delay, claiming a verbal pledge was made to execute the cuts in April 2019. Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright’s riposte in the Commons today (Thursday) was that the Opposition had mistaken the planned date for 2019 when it was actually April 2020; he therefore argued that implementation was in fact being executed early.

Labour has told the BBC that they will put down an amendment to the Finance Bill to try and bring in the changes next April.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs, another aggressive supporter of FOBT stake cuts, is to consider what further action to take regarding the budget decision at a meeting next week.

UPDATE:

Confirmation that Crouch has resigned came late Thursday and was widely publicised by the UK media.

In a tweet explaining her position on the FOBT issue, Crouch wrote: “It is with great sadness I have resigned from one of the best jobs in Government. Thank you so much for all the very kind messages of support I have received throughout the day. Politicians come and go but principles stay with us forever.”

G.I.G. Secures UK Gambling Commission Licensing

B2B licence granted

Gaming innovation Group (GiG) has announced that it has secured a B2B licence from the UK Gambling Commission, enabling it to provide its proprietary online casino content to UK-licensed companies.

The group’s development studio ‘GiG Games’ has been approved as games provider by the UKGC, md Matthias Larsson revealed Thursday, saying that it allows the company to service its UK-licensed network partners and further external brands.

Larsson said: “Regulated markets are the future of our industry and it is part of our core strategy to be present in every regulated market”.

Games will also flow from GIG’s recent partnership agreement with the Jade Rabbit development studio, where the plan is to deliver exclusive content from early next year.