Monday, 26 April 2010

What would you wish for?

I had a meeting today in which I was asked what I would wish for from an in-coming government. From a purely professional point of view, you'll understand...

I think I'd probably wish for two things - one for the industry as a whole, and one for Betfair specifically.

From Betfair's point of view, I'd love an incoming government to say, "you know this debate about bookmakers on Betfair? Well as far as we can see, you've been raising it for a long time now and you've presented nothing new. Go away, and do not darken our doors again, unless you have something new to say."

OK, I know I'm onto a loser on that one. So, I'd make do instead with them making that statement after one more round of the old debate: if it helps to put it to bed, we'll go through it one more time on the understanding that when we win that one as well and once again it is decided that there really is no case to answer (as it will be), then we get that response.

As for the industry wish...

This one would be that the new government makes decisions about us as if we were any other industry, rather than starting from the premise that we are, ooh, just a little bit embarrassing and not something they really want to touch - or would ever touch, were it not for the significant contribution the industry makes to the public purse.

I said it a few months ago, but if there is any appetite from the new government to attract more betting to the UK's jurisdiction, then it isn't just the tax rate that needs to be addressed for online gambling (as many imply): there has, in addition, to be a proper assessment of what the government gives the industry back for the payment that it (the industry) makes.

Having as a starting point the idea that gambling is a legitimate, licensed industry, and that decisions relating to it should be taken accordingly (without the ledger being balanced with the 'oh yes, but darling, they're gambling!' that you get the impression exists at the moment), would be a great way to kick off a new relationship.

It would also allow the in-coming government to make a proper stand for the industry in Europe and around the world - something that I can't help feeling currently happens much more sporadically than would be the case if we were selling widgets.

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