Bookies' offshore gambling tax loophole closing

Image caption The government moves to protect our racing industry

Matthew Hancock is a happy man now racing's offshore gambling loophole appears to have been closed.

The MP whose constituency includes Newmarket - the home of British horse racing- has been arguing that millions of pounds have been lost in tax and betting duties simply because bookies have relocated offshore.

Not for much longer now the government has announced the details of its plans.

The Business and Education Minister argues that 18 of the 20 largest bookmakers currently operate their online businesses from offshore. This means they avoid UK consumer protection regulation and up to £300m a year in tax.

He believes the change will help fund the industry on which their business relies.

"The government's announcement is a big step forward. For a long time now the majority of the large bookmakers have been using a loophole to avoid up to £300m a year in taxes and UK consumer protections.

"Moving offshore has also had a serious impact on the racing industry. We still need to protect prize money and the future of racing, but taxing and licensing offshore operators here in the UK, is a move in the right direction," he said.

From 1st December 2014 operators will be liable for tax on the basis of where the consumer is based rather than where the company's IT equipment is located. This will level the playing field between smaller independent bookmakers as well as those larger companies which have chosen to remain in the UK and the others who've moved offshore.

The government is also bringing forward the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill, which will help address the licensing of offshore operators by the Gambling Commission.

Mr Hancock believes the move will halt any decline in, arguably, "our number one sport".