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Free bet tax hovers ominously over the online casino industry

For years the taxation regulations surrounding the British online casino industry have been somewhat clouded. Sadly, it looks like through a possible new free bet tax, those waters are about to become a whole lot murkier.

15% betting duty

Announced on Wednesday during his House of Commons ‘Budget’ address, UK Chancellor George Osborne stated that through a new proposal, which will be subject to debate, online casinos would face a new 15% general betting duty on free and discounted bets. Putting the beloved casino bonus under threat for the very first time, because if it comes into effect as expected, come 2017 the landscape of online casino play may experience a dramatic shift.

 Even playing field?

What the brand new tax should do, at least in premise, is even out the playing field between online casino, online bingo, and online sportsbook betting. The latter of those three online betting formats is already facing the 15% point of consumption tax (POCT) on all revenues generated. Through the introduction of the free bet tax, Mr Osborne believes that loopholes surrounding free bet use will be closed, without denting the performance of the online casino too much as a result.2014 budget 1As you can imagine, this news has caused murmurings of discontent amongst major UK-based online casino brands. Profits have already suffered due to the 15% POTC, with their being genuine fear that the free bet tax could have an equally harmful effect.

Nothing set in stone

While the free bet tax has certainly caught many by surprise, it should be said that nothing is set in stone at this point. The new tax will be subjected to several key House of Commons debates and while unlikely, there are certain industry names that will have their fingers crossed that it isn’t passed.    

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