James Moore: William Hill is still a decent tip despite carrying tax weightComments Off on James Moore: William Hill is still a decent tip despite carrying tax weight
It’s a fair bet that the Treasury will be as happy as the market was depressed over William Hill’s results. The taxman emerged as the biggest winner.
Hill’s revenues were flat, but numbers preceded by the word “profit” were in the red, thanks in no small part to the impact of the Chancellor’s new point-of-consumption tax on betting.
It was designed with the aim of soaking those who’d flounced offshore to avoid Gordon Brown’s gross profits tax, which had replaced the hated gaming duty.
By moving to tax the bookie on where that punter is based, George Osborne’s new money spinner is justifiable and hard to avoid. It should emerge as a star stayer for the exchequer.
When combined with extra duties imposed on fixed-odds betting terminals, the Treasury topped up its gross win from Hill’s by £44 million.
Other restrictions imposed on those terminals, not for nothing dubbed “the crack cocaine of gambling”, have made for heavy going.
But Hill’s isn’t alone in having to clear these hurdles and you’d be foolish to bet against it long term, even if it’s carrying top weight.
The new playing field created by the Treasury ought to favour big established firms.
It’s true that the merger of rivals Ladbrokes and Coral could create a dangerous competitor. But it’s just as likely to create an almighty mess.
Ladbrokes’ unhappy past history would suggest that the latter is a good bet. Hill’s investors shouldn’t feel too despondent. It’s quietly fancied.
Dress code flip-flop
It seems that Barclays chairman John McFarlane flipped when he got to grips with the sartorial style of staff at Barclaycard.
Dress-down Friday went too far for the new boss. In between cutting the cost base down to size, working out what do with Barclays’ investment bank, and finding a new chief executive, McFarlane has decided the time is right for a flip-flop on the dress code.
So he’s told staff that the informality at Barclaycard must undergo a makeover in case posh clients take offence. Fridays will be a little less casual in future.