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Sunday, 6 October, 2002, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Is UK the new gambling capital?
Casino
Both online and traditional betting are on the rise

A year after the abolition of betting tax, some industry watchers believe the UK is aiming to become the world's biggest gambling arena.

Bookmaker revenues have soared since the 9% tax on bets was abolished in October 2001, and a further shake-up of gambling laws in March paved the way for a flurry of activity in the sector.


The UK is setting out its stall to become the gambling capital of the world

Mark Blandford, Sportingbet
Online betting companies say the changes are good news for both land-based and internet operators, as international punters perceive the betting sites as regulated and trustworthy.

And an increasing number of online betting groups are moving back to the UK from offshore locations to take advantage of the shift.

A sporting chance

Sportingbet, the world's largest web-based betting company moved its operations from Alderney to the UK in August.

Grab from Sportingbet website
Sportingbet has an online casino
Chairman Mark Blandford told BBC News Online that: "The UK is setting out its stall to become the gambling capital of the world".

He said moving the company's base to the UK had provided it with "an open route to market" and the ability to form more alliances with other betting groups.

Analysts have suggested consolidation among the numerous betting companies is now the only way for many of them to survive.

And Mr Blandford said the abolition of betting duty and the more relaxed approach to gambling in the UK had made his company more attractive as a partner.

New tradition

It is not just the online betting market which is burgeoning.

Traditional bookmakers have seen a sharp uplift in profits since the betting tax was removed, and are pushing for a new image - less flat-cap and more female friendly.


The UK is set to establish itself as the key player on the international stage for betting on sports events

Nottingham Trent University

Betting group Ladbrokes, owned by Hilton, reported a 22% rise in profits this summer.

William Hill, the bookmaker which listed on the stock market earlier this year, said profits had jumped 32% in last year, with a 77% rise in online turnover.

The increased activity is being heralded as just the beginning.

A study from Nottingham Trent university this summer suggested betting turnover will continue to "rocket", with bookie revenues already up 70%.

"The UK is set to establish itself as the key player on the international stage for betting on sports events," Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams, Director of the Betting Research Unit at the Nottingham Trent University, told The Business newspaper.

See also:

02 Aug 02 | UK
11 Jun 02 | Politics
26 Mar 02 | Politics
26 Mar 02 | England
26 Jan 01 | High Stakes
25 Feb 02 | Business
01 Mar 02 | Business
26 Feb 02 | England
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