Opinion

Raising the stakes on Net betting

The gambling industry is an excellent example of an industry that is highly responsive to customer needs, inventive and quick to adopt new techniques and technologies.

John Riley

Groundswell

It is an exciting environment in which to manage IT, but gaming is also a prominent example of how the fundamental change caused by IT and Web technologies can force governments unwillingly to make stark fiscal and moral choices about whether a whole industry withers or thrives.

The Internet, combined with the UK's current taxes on betting, has encouraged gaming organisations to set up offshore in Gibraltar and Malta. Stakes - and tax revenues - are already draining out of the UK.

However, if there was no tax on the punter, and gaming companies were taxed simply on their profits as if they were normal companies, the Internet could make the UK the gambling Mecca of the world. The UKGovernment is already thinking hard on this.

The opportunity is huge. The Far East loves to gamble on the UK's clean sporting events. There's a strong potential market from the Web-savvy US, where gambling is frowned on morally, legally and socially.

For IT directors, this is more than fuel for a lively pub conversation. It's a visible case example of the complex global versus local issues the Internet raises in all business sectors.

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This was first published in January 2001

 

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