It had been reported that plans are afoot to introduce a change in the levy placed upon bookmakers in order to help combat gambling addictions. Previously, this levy was a voluntary one, with all revenue going to the 'Responsibility in Gambling Trust’, a government run charity. Now the government is concerned that not enough firms (mainly small independent bookmakers and arcades) are paying this voluntary tax.
Approximately £1.2m needs to be raised by the government to balance the books of this Trust, so now this levy will become compulsory to all firms. I think the government seems to have confused the concepts of charity and tax collection. As soon as firms are forced to pay this levy The Responsibility in Gambling Trust becomes a public service provider, not a charity.
The firms hardest hit by this new compulsory levy will be smaller independent bookmakers. This could force them out of an already tough market (since the boom of internet bingo and poker websites) as well as force the increased costs onto the punters. Possible externalities of this route could be the growth in foreign internet gambling sites or unlicensed bookmakers.
This government has already banned smoking in public places, happy hours and relatively cheap drinking. Now they intend to make it more expensive to gamble. There really is a direct correlation between what they discourage and the pleasure people get from it. Ironically, the politicians were not so righteous and prudent whilst gambling with our public finances, economy and future prosperity.