To ask the Minister for Finance the status of the betting tax review; when the review will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The increase in the betting duty rate from 1 per cent to 2 per cent, and the betting intermediary duty rate from 15% to 25%, came into effect on 1 January 2019. It is too early to draw any conclusions on the impact of these increases.
I have sympathy for small bookmakers who may have ongoing difficulties competing with large retail and online bookmakers. However, I could not apply the increase in betting duty to some bookmakers and not others. Ultimately many taxes on goods or services are passed through to the end consumers and bookmakers will need to make commercial decisions on such matters.
The Deputies will appreciate that decisions in relation to betting duty need to reflect broader public interest considerations. Receipts from betting duty represented less than 1 per cent of all excise receipts in 2017 and this is also likely to be the case in for 2018. In addition, unlike other excisable commodities, there is no VAT applied on betting transactions. I have outlined why I consider the betting sector needs to make a fair contribution to the Exchequer.
In any discussion on betting duty, we must acknowledge the raised public consciousness of the problem of gambling in society. While problem gambling can result in the problem gambler, and their family, bearing the severest of economic and of course personal costs, the social costs of problem gambling can extend to their employers and to public institutions in the health, welfare and justice systems, such costs ultimately borne by taxpayers. Recent research published by the UK Gambling Commission and others provide an indicative list of these social costs, including loss of employment, experience of bankruptcy and/or debt, loss of housing/homelessness, crime associated with gambling, relationship breakdown/problems and health-related problems.
I have outlined my view that the social costs of problem gambling needs to be better reflected within the betting duty regime.
During the course of the Finance Bill process I agreed to review an alternative proposal put forward by the betting sector following the announcement of increases in betting duty in Budget 2019. My officials are currently considering this proposal, including the compatibility of a core element with EU rules, and will set out analysis and options in relation to betting duty at the Tax Strategy Group (TSG) meeting in July. The TSG Papers will be published on the Department's website shortly afterwards.
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