Most countries make tons of money from gambling taxes on players, leaving many questioning why the UK doesn’t follow the same route. However, the reverse is the case, as the UK makes a lot of money from the gaming sector. Gaming-related duties alone amassed a total revenue income of £2.9 billion in 2017, as stated by the HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs). Of course, a significant amount came from the gambling sector.
Unlike other countries, the UK government does not classify gambling as a source of revenue. As a result, they do not see the need to tax players who win now and then.
Rather, they levy the casino operators, which means the casinos bear the responsibility of paying taxes rather than the players.
It is a fair approach, as every gambling win comes from a series of lost bets from other players, and the casino house edge always ensures that the house wins in the long term. As stated by the UK Government, gambling sites are required to pay duty based on their gross gaming yield for a specific period. Consequently, this range varies from 15% to 50%.
Though the UK is now a suitable habitat for gamblers, the situation was much different some years ago. During the early era of UK gambling in the 60s, gamblers had to pay 9% taxes on gambling winnings and stakes. Players could pay these fees upfront or pay for them only when a bet results in a win. This system remained valid until 2001, when major bookmakers moved to other regions like Malta and Gibraltar.
While operating as offshore platforms from new regions, these brands were no longer bound by the UK tax regulations. Due to the success, more betting brands adopted the approach. This had some negative effects, as many lost their jobs, and there was also a significant decrease in the tax revenue of the British government. The government, via Gordon Brown, the then-Chancellor, made some adjustments to the law in 2001.
The law adjustment in 2001 stated that players would no longer have to pay taxes for individual gambling activities. Additionally, the casino operators only had to pay the government a 15% tax on their profits.
Though it was a significant improvement from the previous law for bettors, it still wasn’t enough to draw the attention of casinos and sportsbooks already established in offshore regions.
Another amendment took place in 2005, introducing the ‘point of consumption’ clause, which made it illegal for sportsbooks to operate in the UK without obtaining a licence from the UK Gambling Commission. It also meant that offshore gambling sites in Malta, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar had to pay taxes to become eligible for these gaming licences. The new amendment significantly impacted the iGaming sector in the UK, as it increased the industry’s growth and pushed it to the successful state it sits in today.
Since casino operators are responsible for paying gambling duties in the UK, there are special categories outlined for these levies. Of course, it all leads to the end goal of generating revenue which will help the sector contribute to the UK economy. These taxes vary according to the type of operator.
As outlined in the official UK government tax page, there are several duties into which different casino operators fall:
- Bingo Duty
- Gaming Duty
- Lottery Duty
- Machine Games Duty
- General Betting Duty (Pool Betting Duty and Remote Gaming Duty)
Casinos often register for these gambling taxes according to their modes of operation. It makes the process easy, as the tax body properly outlines them on the UK tax info page.
As a UK player, gambling at an offshore casino wouldn’t make much difference, as most gambling rules remain the same. Most offshore sites that accept UK players have to obtain a licence from the UK Gambling Commission. This means they would have to comply with the UK gambling laws, which include the payment of the 15% tax levies.
Following this structure, everyone still gets to enjoy a tax-free gaming experience when playing on these sites.
Of course, the situation depends on the casino, as some sites offer restrictions for UK players. Keep in mind that if you are a UK resident and you win money from gambling in another country, the tax laws of that country might apply, and you may need to check whether you owe any taxes in that jurisdiction.
Are Gamblers Free From All Tax Duties in the UK?
As it is commonly understood that punters do not pay tax duties in the UK, many gamblers think they’re on the winning edge. From an outward perspective, it is true. However, when considering several factors, our research reveals that players have a significant impact on the taxes that operators pay. Casinos are businesses, so they operate on a model that ensures they always have the advantage over players.
As a result, for each bet you win, there are millions of lost bets from other gamblers. It all ensures the end goal of profit for the house, and 15% of this revenue is what they use to pay levies. Thus, players also contribute to these levies, as casinos only pay taxes based on their profits, which come from the list of combined bets. The tax-free system is, however, favourable, as the former idea of paying taxes on every bet didn’t seem suitable for players.
In some countries where gambling is tax-free, professional gamblers still have to pay a certain percentage as a gambling income tax charge. The tax system ranks gambling as the income source for professional gamblers. As a result, they often have to pay taxes from their source of income, which in this case is gambling.
While this is the law for some countries, it does not apply to UK players.
The tax-free law remains the same whether you’re a pro gambler who makes a living from gambling or just a newbie placing bets occasionally.
The term ‘professional gambling’ does not represent a profession, as gambling is unpredictable, and you’re bound to be on the losing side in the long run. As a result, the UK government doesn’t view it as a source of income and thus does not charge income taxes on these individuals.
Though casino winnings are directly tax-free in the UK, there are certain things you could do with the funds that will lead to some tax charges. If you land a huge payout from a casino, one of the first things that comes to mind is investing in businesses and sharing a little fortune with loved ones or friends. It is here that some tax complications arise. Following the tax laws of the UK, you can only give out tax-free gifts up to a maximum of £3,000. Giving more than £3,000 as a gift to anybody would have them paying some tax fees on the extra amount.
Similarly, whatever amount you invest in a business or trade from your gambling winnings becomes taxable in the UK, as the system deducts income taxes from all investments. Also, once you receive your payout to your bank account, all the additional interest you accumulate on your savings is taxable.
The only tax-free fund from your gambling is the exact amount won on bets.
Below are some tips for gamblers aiming to succeed in the UK.
Keep Gambling Records
While there’s no gambling tax in the UK, most professional players often keep track of their winnings and losses. This practice helps you monitor your gambling activities, and you don’t need an accountant to do this. Pros who view gambling as an additional income stream often keep these performance logs. It is, of course, not compulsory practice.
However, it is advisable, as it helps you determine how much profit you make and how you can adjust your betting activities to ensure a balance. The house always wins, and even professional gamblers know this. As a result, keeping track of your progress along the line can be beneficial.
The tax-free gambling system in the UK won’t make a difference if you do not gamble responsibly. You should always plan your betting sessions and remember to bet only the amounts you can afford to lose. Ultimately, the house always wins, so you should stick to a strict budget when betting and use responsible gambling tools if using an online casino site. Casino games can be overwhelming, making it easy to spend beyond your projected limits.
The UK wasn’t always the paradise of gambling. But, the numerous amendments and implementation of new gambling laws allowed players to enjoy tax-free gambling sessions. So far, the gambling sector has been growing rapidly in the region, with more offshore sites now obtaining licences from the UKGC. Overall, the taxes on gambling do not affect the gameplay experience for customers.
It is an added advantage to get casino winnings tax-free, as UK players can receive their payouts in full. The tax-free system only works for gamblers resident in the UK region. If you’re not a UK resident, you might have to pay taxes according to the laws of your region, even if you use a UK casino.
Do You Have to Pay Tax on Gambling Winnings? FAQs
In this section, we’ll answer some of the most popular questions about taxes on gambling winnings in the UK.
Do you have to pay tax on gambling winnings UK?
No. The UK doesn’t deduct any tax charges for gambling winnings from players. You can keep your full winnings for as long as you want, as the policy does not have a fixed duration after which it expires.
What tax do you pay on gambling winnings?
In regions where players have to pay taxes on gambling winnings, the government ranks these taxes under the category of income taxes. Also, these winnings are only taxable when they are up to a certain amount.
Are gambling winnings tax-free for UK residents playing from outside the UK?
Yes. UK residents playing outside the UK can still enjoy a tax-free gambling experience. But, it depends on some factors. For example, a UK citizen living in a different country must pay taxes according to that country’s laws. The tax-free system applies only when a UK gambler is either on a vacation or any other short trip to a region outside the UK.
When do you really have to pay tax on gambling winnings in the UK?
Before the modern gambling era, players could pay gambling taxes upfront or after winning. In modern casinos, you only have to pay when you bag a significant win. As for UK casinos, the operators pay the levies themselves, so you have nothing to worry about as a player.
Can I use a UK VPN to evade the gambling tax?
No. Though you can change your location with VPN software, it cannot give you the tax benefits of people from the region. In fact, several verification processes are involved when requesting a significant casino payout. You may also have to provide proof of address, taxpayer ID, etc. Due to these verification procedures VPN software wouldn’t make any difference.
How much tax do you pay on gambling winnings?
The tax you pay on your gambling winnings depends on your region. In the UK, casino operators pay around 15% of their profit as taxes. However, there are some regions where players have to pay between 5% to 10% of their winnings and other areas with extra restrictions regarding gambling winnings.
Is the UK gambling tax law applicable to sports betting?
Yes. Sports betting is also a part of online gambling, so the UK government ranks it as an online gaming activity. This means that all your winnings from sports bets are tax-free.