Leading UK gambling industry body, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has urged Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to take more action against to tackle to problem of illegal gambling sites, while also increasing the threshold on tax relief for small businesses.

Sunak is set to deliver his first Budget on Tuesday and the BGC have urged the Chancellor to help small betting firms by offsetting the effect of the reduction in the maximum stake on Fixed Odds betting Terminals, which was reduced last year. The BGC said that this had led to the closure of around 1500 betting shops in the last year, and they called for the extension of tax relief for small businesses, which currently allows companies based in property that is worth less than £51,000 to pay lower tax. The Chief Executive of the BGC, Michael Dugher, said that it was necessary to help boost an industry that had been struggling in recent months:

“An antiquated business rates regime does nothing to help struggling high streets hit by a drop in footfall. Bookies and casinos help attract people to our town centres but once they’re gone there are few if any retailers to step in to take their place.”

The BGC also called for more effective enforcement against unlicensed betting firms, which they said were a clear threat to the licensed industry and a potential loss of revenue to the government. The BGC are calling for the Online Harms Bill that has been proposed by the government to include measures to target betting firms that are targeting UK customers without holding a license to operate in the UK market. Last month, the BGC released the findings of a report that they said showed that over 2% of UK gambling customers had used illegal sites at least once during the previous 12 months.

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