The Sunday Times is reporting that some internal Whitehall documents suggest that some ministers are intent on making the UK a ‘world leader’ in Internet gambling. Seems like we’re already paying for this new initiative – in July, Richard Caborn who is the minister in charge of gambling, travelled to Gibraltar (at taxpayers’ expense) to visit the HQ’s of Party Gaming and 888.com. And culture secretary Tessa Jowell is to hold an international summit of politicians at Ascot racecourse to discuss regulatory standards.
New legislation would lift the current ban on online gaming businesses, and ministers want to actively encourage gambling firms to Britain, but the sticking point is taxation, with the industry saying that anything over 2% on gross profits would be unacceptable. Traditional bookmakers pay 15%. Some firms want to remain offshore but receive a British ‘stamp of approval’ so that they can attract British gamblers.
Gambling is one of those contentious issues. Do we want the UK to become a ‘world leader’ in online betting?