The Minister for Tourism and Heritage, John Penrose, will announce today that the government will change its policy towards bookmakers based offshore. Last night in a debate on the Horseracing Levy he announced that a written ministerial statement today would confirm that the Government would move as fast as it can towards a system which is based on the point of consumption, not the point of production with respect to offshore bookmakers.
What this practically means is that overseas bookmakers will now require a UK licence in order to take bets from punters in this country; where the bookmaker is based will now become irrelevant. The UK on-line betting market is worth some €1.9bn, which is approximately the size of the three next biggest European markets- Germany, France and Italy- put together. For many years bookmakers have been moving offshore, often to Gibraltar or Malta, in order to avoid British taxes and our licensing system.
The Sport and Recreation Alliance has been campaigning for this change for some time, taking the fight to Brussels to help ensure that such proposals are legal as well as campaigning for such a policy change in the UK. The result is a massive boost for the integrity of sport. Offshore bookmakers will now have to comply to British licence condition 15.1 which means sport will have a statutory right to betting information and makes sure that any suspicious betting patterns are reported to sports immediately.
The Alliance chairs the Sports Betting Group which was set up in the wake of the 2010 Parry Report into the integrity of sport from betting; a group which has tirelessly put its case to Government. Tim Lamb, the Alliance Chief Executive and group’s chair said “This is an announcement we have fought for for some time. It is vital that bets taken on events in the UK come under the UK licence regime and this announcement means that bookmakers will finally be compelled to share information on the bets that are taken with sport. This is a huge boost to the integrity of sport and we trust the Government will move at such speed to ensure that this change is in place well ahead of the Olympics next year”