Bookmaker William Hill set to challenge UK online gaming tax
Government plans to tax online gambling in the UK from the end of 2014 are facing a legal challenge from Britain’s biggest bookmaker, William Hill.
The bookmaker has instructed lawyers to put together a case against the proposed tax which will impose a duty of 15 per cent on online gambling profits generated in the UK.
During the last decade, most of the bookmakers in the UK have relocated their online businesses to countries which are seen to be gambling-friendly tax havens such as Gibraltar or the Isle of Man. However the Chancellor announced earlier this year that he wanted to raise £200m a year by imposing a 15 per cent duty on bookies offering online betting in this country.
Many lawyers have warned that the proposed tax is “illegal” under European law as it could be perceived to restrict the free movement of goods and services amongst the EU.
The Chief Executive of William Hill, Ralph Topping has claimed that they have a strong case against the tax and they have had “encouraging noises” from their lawyers.
Jason Chess, a solicirtor who specialises in betting and gaming law said: “You cannot restrict the free movement of goods and services in order to raise your own national tax. We can’t stop BMW from selling BMWs in this country because the tax is paid in Germany.”
The UK may also face legal action from betting authorities in Gibraltar who fear that the tax could cause bookies to move their online businesses back to Britain.