This morning’s press conference at the Treasury by the leadership of the Con Dem Nation can only be described as a poor copy of the Britain’s Got Talent variety TV show. The five finalists; the Jedward twins (David Cameron & Nick Clegg), a female astronaut who had lost the helmet to her space suit (Theresa May), Dr Faustus and his nemesis, Tory Boy (Vince Cable & George Osborne) provided a country, already in shock that Diane Abbot was running for the Labour Leadership, with a collection of platitudes about how the new politics was going to save the country and some desperate declarations of love between the two parties.
This was the launch of their programme for government. The manifesto of the new Clegeron party. Someone has finally realised that everyone had already voted for different parties with different manifestoes and that although the majority of both parties can’t stand each other, here was a collection of things they could at least agree on, or on the major topics, agree to disagree on.
Of most interest for us in the gambling industry are two proposals; to examine a move of the National Lottery to a Gross Profits Tax and to use dormant betting accounts to fund improvements in local sports facilities and support sports clubs. No mention of the increasingly controversial plan to licence offshore operators who wish to advertise in the UK.
A change in the way the National Lottery is taxed is just an easier way of getting more money out of the poor. It would raise the duty from its present 12% to the current average of 15% or 20% as I’m certain gambling taxes will end up at. So no real surprises there.
Dormant betting accounts are interesting as this generally means accounts held with internet and telephone betting operators. The majority are offshore. So regardless of the difficulties of determining what is a dormant account and the fact this would probably realise very little, how is this going to work? Could it be linked in to the plans to make white listed off shore operators get licensed again? New governments aren’t beholden to previous government’s plans, but since this unenforceable policy is widely seen as a backdoor way of grabbing back some of the money leaking offshore, this could be part of it. Our new gambling Minister, Hugh Robertson MP, needs to wrap a towel around his head have a serious think.
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