90 Will Hill jobs to go overseas

The press conference following the release of William Hill plc's latest financial results revealed some interesting relocation possibilities for the UK gambling group. The Times was the first to pick up on a reference to relocation by CEO Ralph Topping that might hint at a move of the land and online gambling giant to Gibraltar, already a popular, white-listed, low-tax domicile for major gambling companies.

Topping said that the company was relocating 90 jobs in its online sportsbook operation overseas, mainly to Gibraltar - a move that The Times interpreted as a warning to the British Treasury.

Topping apparently described the current British tax regime as “absolutely dopey”, saying that, while British-based Web operations paid a 15 percent gross profits tax and a 10 percent racing industry levy, offshore operators paid as little as 1.5 percent in tax.

Asked whether William Hill, which has beefed up its online operations in recent months through deals with Orbis Technology and Playtech, could move offshore,Topping replied: “It's reviewed every year.”

The Times speculates that such a move offshore by a major outfit like Will Hill could spark an exodus from the UK similar to that seen after Victor Chandler moved to Gibraltar to avoid betting tax. Ladbrokes was among those that followed, although it repatriated its business after Gordon Brown scrapped betting duty in 2001, when he was Chancellor.

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