A recent gambling bill is making waves throughout the United Kingdom’s online casino industry. This bill is the culmination of the UK government’s attempts to close tax loopholes for all online gaming and wagering organizations that accept bets from UK players. For years, the government has levied a tax on the gross profits of any online gambling business that is headquartered within UK boarders. As a result, a number of companies — including William Hill, Victor Chandler, and Ladbrokes — have relocated to overseas locations such as Malta, Antigua, and Gibraltar.
In order to regain these lost tax revenues, the UK government instituted a new licencing and tax program, which officially took effect on October 1. Although the final deadline for compliance was recently extended to January 2015, online gaming companies with UK patrons now face two different regulatory hurdles.
First, they must obtain an official licence from the United Kingdom Gaming Commission (UKGC). Fees for this licence vary according to the types of wagering that each licensee seeks to offer (poker, casino games, online bingo, sports betting, and so on). Fees are also based on approximate projected annual revenues.
Second, all online gaming companies that cater to UK players must pay a 15 percent point-of-consumption tax. Tabulated according to gross profits, this tax applies to both domestic and foreign business interests.
Many online casinos with UK players are currently operating without UKGC licences. Others — such as Jackpot City Casino, Lucky Nugget Casino, Casino Epoca, and Mansion Poker — have already announced the cessation of their UK operations.
According to industry authorities, offshore online gaming companies will continue to withdraw from the UK market over the coming months.
Speaking about Mansion Poker’s discontinuation of UK operations, Pokersites.com’s Kaycee James explained that these decisions typically come right down to the financial bottom line. While acknowledging that the UK online gaming market can be quite lucrative, James contends that, for midsize operators such as Mansion, “It may simply not be worth it.”