Lord Puttnam calls to fund arts through online gambling taxation

The boom in bet making online could aid the industry, which is in “desperate need” of cultural skills according to Puttnam.

The Arts Council is facing a 30pc cut to its grant, as outlined by the Department of Cutlure, Media and Sport last year. This will see the councils aid drop from £425 million to £350 million by 2014/15. This is despite the fact that a report released by the Art Council last month found that the arts sector contributes 0.4 per cent of GDP for just 0.1pc of investment, working out to £7 to the UK economy for every £1 it receives from government subsidy.

In comparison, the online gambling operators in the UK receive around 18pc of the total gambling revenues, with many avoiding the 15pc gross profits tax which is levied in the UK by locating their operations in offshore tax haven locations.

“As many of you are aware, there is enormous growth in the gambling industry, particularly online gambling, perhaps even, to some extent, displacing money spent on our National Lottery,” wrote Puttnam in an article on the Yorkshire Post.

“I would like to think that the proceeds of a point of consumption tax on online gambling could, for example, be used to supplement the nation’s investment in arts, sport and culture.”

UK consumers spend roughly £1.7 billion each year on online bingo, poker and casino websites such as MoneyGaming.com. Lord Puttnam believes that his tax plan would contribute more revenue for HMRC via gambling companies based in low or nil-tax environments, as well as curbing the rising offshore industry.

“Many of the companies that operate in the online gambvling space are based offshore, therefore making very little contribution to the overall long-term prosperiety of the country,” he continued.

“By finding an effective way to use the proceeds of an enhanced tax on gambling to support arts and sport, we would be harnessing what may well prove to be a worrying rise in gambling activity, and allow it to become something which is of economic social and cultural value to the nation as as a whole.”

Lord Puttnam concluded by saying: “I cannot close without reminding the country that the value of the arts and culture can never simply be reduced to economics.”