William Hill Hit by High Taxes in Great Britain

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Published on:
Jul/31/2008

Big name bookmaker William Hill is blaming the British Government for its 10pc fall in first-half profits, hit by losing results from Euro 2008 and Royal Ascot. But the real problem, that firm argues, is the nation's tax on UK-based bookmakers.

"We paid £267m in taxes last year plus £30m in levies to the horseracing and greyhound industries and employ 14,000 people," Ralph Topping, chief executive of William Hill, told the Telegraph. "This business has to be allowed some room to grow. What I am saying to the Government is, please think things through from all angles."

Topping called for a cut in the tax paid by UK-based bookmakers on internet gambling and warned the Government against any crackdowns on fixed-odds betting terminals.

"The Government said in 2001 that the UK would become the centre for e-commerce businesses and they have failed. It's because they are not sure of what they are doing. They flip-flop all the time."

The United Kingdom's promise helped to lure some offshore gambling outfits - including Gambling911.com endorsed Sporting bet - back to the mainland. Many of these companies had previously operated their online betting businesses from tax havens just off the shores of Great Britain including the Isle of Man and The Channel Islands of Jersey.

William Hill said it had incurred an incremental cost of £5m for the 26 weeks to 1 July for a new contract to stream live coverage of horse races - for which Turf TV, the betting shop broadcaster, has exclusive rights - into its betting shops, according to The Independent.

The group's gross win for the period was up 4 per cent to £516m, which included its retail channel growing gross wins by 5 per cent to £421.3m. William Hill said that the performance of its telephone betting was "disappointing" and was affected by adverse sporting results over the period.

Mr Topping said that William Hill had a weak Euro football championship 2008, when it lost in 20 of the 31 matches. "I would rather not talk about it. The amount of Prozac being given out as treatment at the company has gone up."

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