Saturday, 8 August 2009

So who actually does pay UK tax and levy from their online activity?



William Hill - soon to channel all online business through Gibraltar
Ladbrokes - soon to channel all online business through Gibraltar
BetFred - online business goes through Gibraltar
Stan James - all business goes through Gibraltar
Victor Chandler - all business goes through Gibraltar

Paddy Power - online business goes through the Isle of Man
Boylesports - online business goes through the Isle of Man
Blue Square - all business goes through Alderney
Sportingbet - all business goes through Alderney
SkyBet - all business goes through Alderney

Betfair - all non-UK and non-exchange business goes through Malta
Jennings - online business goes through Malta

Totesport - have no choice, they are an organization created by the UK government

Bet365 - online sports betting is licensed in the UK, other products through Malta

If I have any of these wrong, please feel free to contact me and clarify.


So the headlines are deservedly hard on Hills and Ladbrokes, but they're not Robinson Crusoe in this.

The firms who do deserve your business at the moment are Coral, the Tote, Bet365, and to a lesser extent, Betfair. But what are the chances that the Racing Post, AtTheRaces, Racing UK or Channel 4 will turn down advertising from any firm not paying their 'proper' share of levy? Not much.

Members of the public have been bombarding the RacingPost with their 'brilliant' ideas in recent days. Too bad none of these people have a clue about modern economic or legal principles....

"Make it Tote betting only." - there are laws against monopolies and restricting competition.

From the same deluded individual - "Racing doesn't need bookmakers." - have you ever been to a normal race meeting (eg not the Arc or Breeders' Cup) with no bookmakers? I'd rather watch Antiques Roadshow on the BBC. It is that dull....

And again the same person - "Bookmakers need racing" - ever been into a betting shop in the last three years? Count how many punters are watching the races and compare that with the queues of people wanting to play those stupid casino machines. Racing's share of bookies' holds has been dropping for years. I think Hills said it is only 36% of their overall turnover these days - a far cry from 20 years ago when it would have been 80% at least.

"Simply block offshore sites that are not paying levy" - the EU will have something to say about that, and censorship never has worked in democratic society.

"Racing owns the product and the owners own the horses. They should collectively charge more for using the product. And football, cricket, golf etc should be encouraged to get their share too." - this bloke is obviously not a punter as it would cut out any value and enjoyment in betting full-stop when bookmakers start markets at 150% for eight-runner horse races and price an even tennis match at 1.75 each.

and then of course there is Ralph Topping and some other dinosaur moaning about Betfair and all those evil unlicensed layers. You'd think he'd have learned by now - Betfair's most effective marketing ever was when the heads of Hills and Ladbrokes complained constantly about them. When bookmakers pledge to do what they are licensed to do - lay bets - and not close punters down to ridiculous amounts, then they might have an argument. I can lay a book with Hills and Ladbrokes on every single race - I just have to cop their margins when I back every other horse in the race. Just because something is simpler does not mean it is new or illegal. Perhaps Hills would also like to go back to the 'good old days' where integrity agreements with sporting authorities were non-existent because bookies had the information and used it for their own financial gain?

But they are just modern corporations, just like those banks we hate - "we don't care about customers or the country, the only people we care about are shareholders and our bonuses."

4 comments:

  1. I'm not so sure Corals et al will be able to sustain competitiveness if almost all others are making the switch. Although I do not know specifics about Corals business model I'd take a guess they are not following suit due to inconvenience rather than their loyalty to being UK based and paying levy. Perhaps someone might be able to clarify this for us. Most others would already have a base in these locations so making the switch would simply be a case of expanding their existing office space at that location.

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  2. I don't think Corals have ever really competed on price though. They prefer to pay rebates (10% of losses is their latest promotion) rather than chase punters only picking off top prices. Perhaps that's part of being owned by a big corporation, rather than being a PLC on their own. You're certainly right on it not being an easy move for them because they don't already have an offshore base, but I'd also argue their website is much smaller as a percentage of their business in comparison with Hills & Lads.

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