William Hill hit hard by new Fixed Odds Betting Terminal tax
William Hill, one of the United Kingdom’s largest bookmakers which is also involved in online gambling offering online casino games (William Hill Casino), poker and sports betting, has let it be known that it may close over a hundred of its High Street betting shops during the year. The reason given is the recent tax increase the government has placed on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. William Hill’s betting shops along with other bookmakers’ shops had installed the Fixed Odds Betting machines in their premises from 2001 and gamblers could bet on different games and events with roulette being the most popular game.
In the recent budget in relation to gambling changes, the Chancellor, George Osborne revealed that the 20 percent taxes placed on Bingo would be reduced by half for Bingo Hall operators but on the other hand he placed a 25 percent tax on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. Betting shops are allowed up to four betting machines in each shop and these can be traditional casino style slot machines or the newer Fixed Odds Betting Terminals although most High Street bookmakers favour the Fixed Odds machines as they are more profitable for them.Fixed Odds Betting Terminals have been frequently mentioned in the media, usually in a negative light since they have been used for money laundering. Last year a well known British bookmaker was fined by the Gambling Commission because a drugs dealer managed to launder close to a million pounds through Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and the bookmaker made a profit on this amount. Those involved in social welfare and anti-gambling groups have also publicly opposed the terminals because large amounts of money could be bet within a few seconds unlike in a casino where normal bets in slot machines are £2.00. They also claim that these machines are particularly addictive and the ease of access by having so many of them available on the High Street particularly in poorer areas have meant that more people are addicted and then get into financial difficulties. The Opposition leader, Ed Miliband claimed recently that should he be elected Prime Minister in 2015 that he would ban Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in bookmakers.
The bookmakers response to the removal of the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from their High Street shops was that they would be forced to close shops and this is the current situation for William Hill. The company has claimed that the extra tax on the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals would cost it almost 22 million pounds annually and it is closing just over 100 of its shops losing over 400 jobs to avoid this situation.