The Guardian has reported that:
Totesport Casino, an internet arm of government-owned bookmaker the Tote, is switching its operations to the offshore tax haven of Alderney in a controversial move that will allow it to advertise freely in the UK while avoiding UK tax and regulation.
Remember the Mapeley debacle where the Revenue sold 600 of its properties to a Bermuda based company? I think this latest move by a government owned company has the same capacity to create embarrassment.
There is no one on earth who believes that the Tote's activities will actually be managed from Alderney. That's just not possible. I've been there. It's a nice place for a quiet holiday. But it is not a centre of any real business activity bar that undertaken in the golf course bar and a couple of hotels.
So this is a sham transaction entered into by a state owned enterprise to avoid (or in my opinion, evade) UK taxation liabilities. That the government has allowed this is indication of how deep is its moral malaise.
I don't despair. But that's only because I am an optimist who believes in the capacity for change. That said, I don't underestimate for a minute the scale of the required reform in attitude within the UK government because right now it seems that any sham, charade or fraud that crosses its path is welcomed with open arms.
And this time at least it must be the Revenue who are despairing. What worse signal could the government give to those who make a living from abusing the UK's taxation system than this?