Saturday, 2 January 2010

Betting in the course of business?

For almost ten years now, there has been a lot of chat from the BHA that there are people on Betfair who are 'in business' and should be levied accordingly.

Below is an article on Patrick Veitch, a professional punter, from May last year. His book, Public Enemy Number One, was serialised in the Racing Post, but I don’t recall coming across this particular piece when the book came out.

Here's a snippet:

He carefully documents his 10,049,983.03 pounds in profits from 1999 to 2006. (Gambling winnings are tax-free in the U.K.; the government gets its cut from a 15 percent tax on bookies’ gross profit.) Veitch’s hardest job is getting the bookies to take his bets; he has a team of around 300 agents placing bets on his behalf. He also discusses the research that goes into spotting something that will give him an edge, like the anomalies in racetrack conditions that will favor a particular horse.”

BHA Chairman Paul Roy and his CEO Nic Coward have shown no interest in Patrick Veitch, or others like him, being subjected to Levy. But they believe that they ought to be going after people who "look like they are in business on Betfair," even though there have been numerous government reviews which have concluded that you cannot actually run a bookmaking business purely on Betfair: you can only use Betfair as a hedging mechanism for an existing bookmaking business (in which case you are liable to levy anyway, and are breaking the law if you don't pay it), or you have to take your chances like any other punter - with a commensurate likelihood of success. Yes, some people still go on to win - like Patrick Veitch does with traditional bookies.

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