Good news for drinkers and gamblers

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Indy Politics

There was cheer for drinkers and gamblers in what is expected to be the last Budget before the next General Election.

There was cheer for drinkers and gamblers in what is expected to be the last Budget before the next General Election.

Mr Brown said there would be a freeze on duty on beer and wine, as well as spirits. He said duty on cigarettes would only rise by 6p, in line with inflation.

The Chancellor also gave the news that the industry had been hoping for when he announced that bookmakers would be taxed on their gross profits at a rate of 15%.

He is scrapping the current system in which the Government collect a betting duty of 6.75% from bookmakers which is passed on to punters in a 9% tax. Bookmakers are able to absorb all the costs of the new tax themselves, allowing punters to bet tax-free in this country.

The changes will come into effect from Janaury 1 next year. This will be the first time since April 1968 that betting shop customers will have had the luxury of placing a wager without having to make a contribution to the Government.

The move has been designed to stem the loss in betting turnover to the offshore market which is already able to offer punters tax-free betting. It is hoped that the major bookmaking firms will now ditch their offshore businesses and repatriate.

Leading bookmakersÿ representatives have pledged that Britain can now lead the way for gambling.

"This is fantastic news. The Government have done what we thought they would do and the ball is now in the bookmakersÿ court," said independent bookmakersÿ representative Warwick Bartlett.

"Our members have been badly-hit by the attractions of tax-free offshore betting ÿ now Iÿm sure all the punters will come back again. I might even start betting myself!"

Bartlett, chairman of the British Betting Officesÿ Association and a member of the bookmakersÿ committee, said: "This should bring about an increase in turnover of around 50%.

"We will attract people from abroad and punters who had been betting offshore will come back to us. "Nobody will even think about having a bet with an illegal bookmakers when they know they can get a tax-free wager with a proper British bookmaker."

William Hill chairman John Brown has already spoken on the merits of a gross profits tax.

"It would be great for everybody ÿ the bookmaking industry, horse racing and greyhound racing, and for employees. But most of all it would be great for punters, the majority of whom have never had the opportunity to bet deduction-free."

Bartlett gave plenty of credit to bookmaker Victor Chandler who sparked the offshore exodus.

"My board went crazy at the time when Chandler moved out and the others followed," he said.

"But the steady drift to offshore betting forced the Governmentÿs hand when they realised they were losing a lot of money through decreased turnover. We should give Victor Chandler an award for innovation!"

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