The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called upon the UK government to reconsider the freeze on Gaming Duty Bands for land-based casinos, which was confirmed in the Autumn Statement. This decision means that the taxation on UK casinos will not increase with inflation, resulting in a £5 million tax increase per year for BGC member casinos.
The freeze on the Gaming Duty Bands has been met with disappointment from the BGC, as they had hoped for a lift on the freeze to provide much-needed relief for the struggling land-based casino sector. The industry has been grappling with rising energy expenses, salary increases, and high inflation, making it difficult for them to remain financially stable.
The BGC highlighted the significant contribution that casinos make to the UK economy, employing over 10,000 individuals and serving more than 16 million visiting clients each year. They also contribute £300 million in taxes and an estimated £800 million per year in Gross Value Added to the economy.
However, the industry has been facing challenges, with job losses and closures, exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2005, the number of casinos in Great Britain has reduced from 160 to 117, with four casinos closing their doors in recent months. This has resulted in a 25% decrease in casino employment, from 13,600 individuals in 2019 to below 10,200 currently.
Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council, expressed disappointment in the decision to maintain the freeze, calling it a “stealth tax” that could impede the recovery and future growth of the industry. He urged the government to reconsider the freeze and adjust the Gaming Duty Bands with inflation at the next opportunity.
The consequences of the freeze are projected to cost casinos £25 million over the next five years. The BGC emphasized that its members collectively contribute £7.1 billion to the economy, generate £4.2 billion in tax revenue, and support 110,000 jobs.
In addition, the BGC emphasized the importance of working with the regulator and the government to implement measures that do not risk driving consumers into the unregulated, dangerous black gambling market. This market has seen a doubling in wagering numbers and significant amounts being wagered, posing a risk to consumers.
The BGC also noted that the rate of problem gambling in the UK is 0.4% of the adult population, as outlined in the latest NHS Health Survey. The organization continues to advocate for responsible gambling and regulation while urging the government to reconsider the freeze on Gaming Duty Bands for the benefit of the casino industry and the UK economy.