Covid impacts UK Gaming Duty for government

HM Revenue and Customs have released the UK Betting & Gaming commentary for 2020, revealing how much income they’ve received from betting and gaming receipts.

The report – analysed by gaming and gambling experts UKAT – shows a total for the current financial year of £1,344 million, a decrease of 8% compared with the same period in the previous financial year, a drop blamed on the economic impacts caused by the Coronavirus crisis.

Although receiving less in betting and gaming receipts this year, almost one third (32%) of the total receipts earned comes directly from Remote Gaming Duty (RGD) which has increased by a staggering 30% from the previous financial year, suggesting that during the pandemic, more and more people took to online gaming than ever before.

The report also shows the negative impact the Coronavirus crisis has had on income from bookmakers.

Receipts for General Betting Duty total £265million, a decrease of 3% compared to the previous financial year, with today’s commentary suggesting that the cancellation of several sporting events may have contributed to the reduction in receipts earned, as fewer fixed-odds bets made with bookmakers in the UK were able to be placed this year.

According to UKAT’s analysis, all bets were off during July 2020, as GBD receipts show that in July 2020, only £80million was generated, almost half that of July 2019 due to the impact from the Coronavirus crisis.


But the betting market looks to be on the up as sporting events like football kicked off again just a few months ago. Betting receipts from August 2020 and September 2020 – £15 and £30 million respectively – have been higher in these months of the two previous financial years.

Income from gaming duty receipts has also taken a massive hit this year. Machine Game Duty- money earned by HMRC every time a person plays a physical machine game with cash for cash – for the current financial year stands at £147 million, a decrease of 46% compared to the previous financial year. The report also reveals that this is the lowest receipts total since Machine Games Duty was introduced back in April 2013.

Similarly, the Bingo market, another industry which couldn’t survive the Coronavirus crisis, has been hugely impacted. Today’s report shows the impact the closure of bingo venues imposed by Government restrictions had. Bingo duty receipts total £4 million, a decrease of a staggering 73% compared to the previous financial year.

The gaming and gambling treatment experts at UKAT suggest that today’s report could be revealing a real problem;

“The figures in today’s report were, overall, unsurprising and expected. Of course income from Machine Game Duty and Bingo Duty would have taken a hit, as the places where people would have engaged with this type of activity were forced to close.

“But what has come out of this is a clear message that as a society, we are gaming far more than we used to, and this societal behavioural change is now lining HMRC’s pocket”  warns UKAT’s Head of Treatment, Nuno Albuquerque.

“People will deal with the Coronavirus crisis in different ways. Some will have turned to alcohol, some will have gamed their way through it. The truth is that both can be as dangerous as each other. It’s important to remember that too much of anything can be detrimental, especially if it starts to negatively impact on your day to day life.”