Brown’s last throw of the dice

Gordon Brown is expected to use his last Budget speech on Wednesday to introduce a new gaming tax for online casinos and poker companies.

The announcement will coincide with the presentation of a report by a parliamentary committee that will criticise the process that led to Manchester being awarded the UK‘s one „supercasino“ licence.

The levy is likely to be set relatively low and be payable on the profits that offshore gaming companies make from their UK customers.

The Government has to introduce some form of gaming tax before September, when the Gambling Act, paving the way for new casinos to be built in the UK, comes into force.

The online gambling industry has been calling for the introduction of a UK gaming licence. Companies would pay a fee to offer services to punters and would also pay a tax on profits derived in the UK.

A senior figure at one online gaming group said: „The notion that we will move to the UK, uproot all our people and pay corporation tax is daft. A licence fee makes more sense.“

The Chancellor is being urged to make the Budget as corporate friendly as possible. John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI, called for „an acknowledgement that the business tax burden has crept much too high“.