Coral are to relocate their entire online operation to Gibraltar, meaning they join high street rivals Betfred, Ladbrokes, and William Hill in paying nothing in UK taxes. Only bet365, among Britain’s major bookmakers, now remain in the UK though they, too, are thought to be assessing their options.
The UK government is estimated to lose around £300million a year in tax revenue because of offshore betting operations and there is no doubt that Coral‘s decision to move to Iberian peninsula will cause further angst. The racing industry has long argued that its revenues via the levy are in decline due partly to the exodus to the British overseas territory, which must be groaning under the weight of traders, IT staff and administration staff working for the leading bookmakers. .
The news that Coral are finally abandoning the UK comes as no surprise, there were several advertisments for Gibraltar-based staff in Saturday’s papers, though it’s unclear if any existing staff will lose their jobs. Gambling operators in Britain currently have to pay 15 per cent tax on their gross profit as well as corporation tax and VAT but any relief will be short-lived if, as we’ve covered earlier, MP Matthew Hancock has his way. Mr Hancock, who represents the Newmarket constituency, has introduced a bill in parliament which would necessitate all bookmakers who take bets from UK customers to pay a levy. That proposed redefining of the rules regarding the collection of duty on betting has its second reading in the House of Commons at the end of March and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has been frantically looking at ways to claw back some cash into the government’s coffers before Wednesday’s budget. There would be very little sympathy for firms the public perceive as cheating the taxman, just ask the bankers. Coral, however, insist they won’t be returning to Britain any time soon once they move their sportsbook operation and one suspects that bookmakers would explore every avenue possible to avoid donating more of their profits than is currently the case.