by Renee Israel
MP Matthew Hancock managed to secure one of the coveted 13 slots of
backbench led legislation over the coming year, bringing his Offshore Gambling
Bill one step closer to reality.
Last night it was announced that the bill had received a date for
its second hearing - which will be held on January 25th, 2013.
The bill, introduced by the Suffolk MP, addresses the issue of UK
bookmakers who operate offshore. Hancock believes that these groups manage to
avoid paying taxes worth upwards of £300 million each year.
Hancock was thrilled with obtaining the Offshore Gambling Bill
second reading date, and said he looked forward to closing the existing
loophole in UK gambling legislation.
"It is great news for racing that the Offshore Gambling Bill has
secured a slot for second reading," he said. "The bill is now firmly on the path
in becoming law, which can't come soon enough for many of my constituents in
Newmarket and the rest of the horseracing industry."
Cross Party Cooperation
The success of the Offshore Gambling Bill so far has been credited
to the cross-party support of several MPs, including Charlie Elphicke, Ben
Gummer and Thomas Docherty.
"I am thrilled that with a cross party team effort, we have been
able to secure one of the 13 slots for backbench legislation this year," said
Hancock. "I am enormously grateful to Charlie, Ben and Thomas who slept through
the night in parliament to make it happen."
Hancock's bill brings about a new 'point of consumption' approach
to gambling licensing in the United Kingdom.
When introducing the bill in March this year, Hancock said: "The
largest bookmakers have been able to take advantage of the offshore tax loophole
for this long, at the expense of a level playing field here in the UK."
He claimed that the current laws cause damage to public purse,
independent bookmakers and the racing industry.
Majority of UK Gambling Groups Operate Offshore
Out of the top twenty bookmakers who operate in the United
Kingdom, nineteen of them are located offshore, according to the latest figures.
This means that besides avoiding the hundreds of million in
taxes each year, they are also not subject to UK consumer protection laws.
Having said that, the majority of these groups have their own
consumer protection policies and high standards in place, and cooperate fully
and transparently with UK gambling authorities, especially ahead of big sporting
events such as the London Olympic Games.