David Prosser: Bookies' payback time

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The Independent Online

Outlook You win some, you lose some. The decimalisation of betting odds, unveiled this week, was seen as good news for bookies, enabling them to make a few pennies by offering meaner starting prices. Yesterday, however, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced less welcome news: a move to tighter regulation of online gambling offered to Britons by offshore operators.

It was only a question of time. Online bookmakers based in jurisdictions such as Gibraltar are not currently required to pay various British taxes, despite hawking their services to punters in this country. That's why William Hill and Ladbrokes moved their online sports betting operations to Gibraltar last year.

The current white-list scheme, which sees certain jurisdictions cleared as approved areas for online operators to be based, will continue. But those companies based in these white-list regions will soon be expected to pay many of the same taxes and levies as their onshore counterparts.

The rules will take time to work out – the DCMS is keen to ensure it does not drive smaller operators into non-regulated territories – but look certain to be implemented whichever party wins the election. The bookies don't win all the time.