UK Casino Industry Appeals for Reconsideration of Gaming Duty Freeze Amid Economic Challenges

In response to the recently unveiled Autumn Statement, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is calling on the Chancellor to reconsider a stealth tax imposed on land-based casinos. The freeze on Gaming Duty Bands, initially announced in March, is causing concern within the industry, with estimates suggesting a substantial £5 million annual tax increase for BGC land-based casino members.

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Under the Treasury's measures, Gaming Duty Bands crucial to UK casinos will remain unchanged, failing to adjust for inflation. This decision has prompted the BGC to seek a reevaluation, given the sector's challenging circumstances, including rising wages, soaring energy costs, and high inflation.

The casino industry, a key player in the tourism and hospitality sector, currently employs over 10,000 people and serves more than 16 million customer visits annually. These establishments contribute a significant £300 million in taxes and an estimated £800 million Gross Value Added to the economy.

However, the industry has been grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic and economic headwinds, resulting in closures and job losses. The number of casinos in the UK has dwindled from 160 in 2005 to the current count of 117, with four recent closures, including the historic Crockfords in Mayfair.

BGC CEO Michael Dugher voiced concern over the freeze, stating, "Freezing Gaming Duty Bands is a stealth tax that has the potential to slow recovery and weaken future growth." He emphasized that removing the freeze would have provided a timely boost for the land-based casino sector.

The freeze on Gaming Duty Bands is projected to cost casinos £25 million over the next five years. BGC members, representing over 90% of the regulated betting and gaming industry in the UK, contribute £7.1 billion to the economy, generating £4.2 billion in tax while supporting 110,000 jobs.

Dugher urged a reevaluation, pointing out that maintaining the status quo was a missed opportunity for companies prepared to generate jobs and investment across the country. The BGC remains committed to working closely with the government and regulators to deliver the White Paper. However, it emphasizes that any changes must not drive customers towards the unsafe, unregulated gambling black market, where betting numbers have doubled in recent years, reaching amounts in the billions.

As 22.5 million adults in Great Britain engage in various forms of betting each month, the industry is encouraged by recent NHS Health Survey figures, indicating problem gambling rates of only 0.4% of the adult population in England.


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