Sports Betting site to move offshore?

Ian Burke, chief executive of the Rank Group, has admitted the possibility that its online sports betting business, Blue Square, may move offshore to avoid unfavourable tax levels in the UK.

In his last budget, Gordon Brown surprisingly raised the duty on casinos to between 15 and 50 per cent (dependant on the size of the casino), when a level of around 2.5 per cent was widely expected. UK-based remote betting operations were also hit with a 15 per cent gross profits tax.

A move to an offshore location such as Gibraltar, where fellow gaming companies Victor Chandler, and PartyGaming reside, would be relatively easy for Blue Square since their presence in the gambling market is almost exclusively on the internet.

"It is something we would consider, but we have not made a decision yet,” said Mr Burke.

Rank is also set to face tough times with regards to its bingo chain, Mecca Bingo. The introduction of the smoking ban coupled with a 15 per cent tax on gross profits plus the 17.5 per cent VAT tax (with bingo the only form of gaming to face this charge), is expected to hit its operations hard.

Editor, - 2007-07-09 10:44:56

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