UK government drops free plays tax Finance Bill

The UK government has opted to remove a tax on free plays and bonuses from the Finance Bill 2017.

In December, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the Finance Bill would implement new rules regarding free bets, free plays and discounted betting.

The changes were due to come into effect from accounting periods that begin on or after August 1, 2017, but the government yesterday (Wednesday) dropped the new laws from the Finance Bill.

The government said it did not believe that the plans would receive sufficient scrutiny prior to parliament being dissolved on May 3 ahead of the General Election.

However, Simon French of Cenkos Securities has said should the Conservative party be re-elected at the election on June 8, it is expected that these provisions, as well as others that were removed, will be introduced into a revised Finance Act.

French added that Cenkos expects some “financial respite” for major operators that anticipated a £5m (€5.9 million/$6.4 million) to £10 million annualised hit from the law change pre-mitigation

“We do not believe this signals any change in stance in government's view towards the gambling industry and we continue to favour online-focussed operators with proprietary technology and geographic diversity,” French said.

“However, we will not change forecasts at this stage but this will provide support to companies' meeting market expectations for 2017 as the original plan for August implementation appears unlikely to be met.”

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