As a result of many retail gaming venues being closed for much of the last 14 months, machine gaming duty receipts received by HMRC for 2020/21 are down by 45 percent on the previous financial year.
In its latest tax statistics, HMRC has revealed that machine gaming duty (MGD) receipts totalled £282m for the 2020/21 financial year, down from £510m in 2019/20.
The tax authority said in its commentary that “this is likely due to various measures taken by the government in response to the coronavirus pandemic which resulted in the closure of gambling venues from April 2020”. The same story is true for gaming duty receipts, largely paid by casino operators, which fell by 63 percent from £213m in 2019/20 to £80m in the latest financial year, and for bingo duty, which plummeted by 75 percent from £31m to £8m over the same period. For MGD, £31m of the receipt loss can also be attributed to the reduction of the maximum stake on FOBTs in 2020/21, the effect of which was mainly felt in the 2019/20 financial year.
“Impacts from the coronavirus and public health measures in response are visible within changing trends to receipts collected for betting and gaming since April 2020,” said HMRC’s commentary on the latest tax statistics. “This is caused by a mixture of changes to payment timings, policies affecting business and emerging economic impacts. It’s too early to unpick impact levels from each, but this should become clearer over time.”
However, not all sectors had less to offer the taxman. Remote gaming duty receipts for the financial year ending in 2021 hit £884m, which is £178.6 million and 25 percent higher than the same period a year previous. This rise, along with lottery duty and general betting duty holding their value to the treasury, meant that total betting and gaming receipts fell by only six percent, from £3bn to £2.8bn, between financial years, which conveniently split the year at the start of April – only several days after the first lockdown in the UK began – and so give a clear picture of pre-pandemic and post-pandemic performance.
Indeed, it is clear how the government response to the pandemic has affected the industry; retail gambling has suffered, while online gambling has gained – and responsibility now rests with the government to respond quickly to resolve this ever-increasing disparity, or the receipts recently lost from landbased gaming could end up gone for good.