Big Gambling Families Pay The Most Tax

hmrc websiteThe gambling industry as a whole is one with a bad reputation, with the people involved often criticised for their approach to moving their companies abroad so that they can pay less tax. However, it has emerged this month that the likes of Betfred’s Done family and the Coates family, who are behind Bet365, pay more tax than most of the so-called Super Rich. Indeed, the Done’s and the Coates’ feature in the top three of the list this year.

The Sunday Times 2021 Tax List takes a look at the contributions made by the richest people in the country, with this year’s being one of the most important for some time on account of the cosy of the government’s response to the coronavirus epidemic. It is the second year in succession that the Coates family have paid more than half a billion pounds in tax money to the treasury.

While these families make a lot of money from punters and players in the UK they still choose to pay their tax in the UK, which is more than can be said for most of the other ‘super-rich’.  The fact that two out of three of the biggest tax payers are from the gambling sector may be a reflection on modern society in the UK or it may be a reflection that the mega rich in other industries are avoiding their share.

How They Made The List

corporation structure

As always with any news story, a little bit of digging shows that things might not be as impressive as they first appear. Whilst there’s no question that both the Done and Coates families have earned their places on the Sunday Times’ list of people paying large amounts of tax, it’s not quite as simple as all that. For starters, the amount of money you’d need to pay to make the list has dropped from £20.4 million to £13.1 million.

That 36% drop suggests that businesses have seen a downturn over the past 12 months or so, as pointed out by Robert Watts, the lead compiler of the list. He said,

“These worrying numbers show the tax take from many of Britain’s super-rich has fallen sharply – largely because their businesses have seen a downturn. These numbers illustrate that when some wealthy people prosper our public finances do feel a benefit.”

The Sunday Times did also point out that it has changed the way in which the list is complied, with a specific methodology helping the Dones and the Coates’. Any gambling duties paid by the businesses that the two families own have been included in the total amount paid, provided said duties were paid during the year 2019-2020. In other words, tax paid by Bet365 and Betfred counts towards the families totals.

Do Gambling Families Deserve More Credit?

high earnerThe gambling industry as a whole is often on the receiving end of a large amount of criticism, specifically in regards to finances. That many companies often have to be essentially forced into paying money towards problem gambling programs, for example, will always sit uneasily with the industry’s critics. Yet Denise, John and Peter Coates have now paid more than half a billion pounds in tax for two successive years.

The Done family, meanwhile, are the highest climbers in the Sunday Times list. Peter and Fred Done, two brothers from Salford, made the move from 22nd place on the list last year to third-place this time around. This was because the amount of tax paid by their two main businesses, Betfred and there Peninsula Group, shifted from £45 million to £191 million for the 2019-2020 tax year.

The amount of tax that has been paid by the Coates family this year, which sits at around £573 million, is the equivalent of paying 63,000 state pensions. The family is also one of the highest donors in other areas, with £10 million reportedly donated to the NHS Midlands Trust at the start of the pandemic. That is a huge contribution to the country, whichever way you cut it. It’s also worth noting it’s not common for the rich to pay so much.

Other Industries Don’t Pay As Much

man running away from wrecking ball with tax written on itThere are plenty of other industries in which the richest people don’t pay anywhere near as much tax as the two gambling families have done. The Dones and the Coates’ were among just 17 business owners that paid more tax during the 2019-2020 tax year compared to the year before. Whilst this is likely to be due to the economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it’s also going to be partly because they chose not to.

Chris Dawson and his wife Sarah, for example, saw their tax bill drop to £17.4 million from £20.4 million the year before and £25.4 million in 2018. This is in spite of the fact that their personal wealth increased from £1.96 billion in 2018 to more than £2 billion last year. At the same time, the homeware chain that they own, The Range, saw an increase from £943.679 million to £999.972 million in the year to February 2020.

Critics Think They Earn Too Much

gambling taxThose that would choose to criticise the gambling industry will have no intention of letting up on that criticism just because two families associated with the trade have paid a lot of tax this year. In fact, it’s even possible to suggest that the pair are on the list in the first place because companies that supply a means for betting earn far more money than they should. This is reflected in the Coates family being worth an estimated £7.2 billion.

That is obviously not an insignificant amount of money and the majority of it has come from the success of the Bet365 business that the family operates. Take away the approximate amount of tax paid by the family this year and that figure barely moves, showing just how wealthy the Coates family is. Gambling critics would also point out that the money paid will contribute towards helping those with gambling problems.

It’s certainly interesting that the list’s compiler believes that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has a difficult job next year. When the pandemic has passed, Robert Watts believes that he will need to find a way of maximising income from the country’s richest individuals whilst also being careful not to drive ‘them or their businesses away from the UK’. That is indicative of people who are not quite as interested in the public purse as the tax reports might suggest.

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