Sleeping rough earns second reading of UK MP Hancock’s online betting tax bill


uk-mp-hancock-online-gambling-billRemember that time you and your buddies camped out overnight to get concert tickets, a new model iPhone or the latest first-person shooter video game? Congratulations: you may have a future in politics. That’s the lesson we’re taking from the fact that three British members of parliament ‘slept rough’ in the hallways of the legislature to ensure that Conservative MP Matthew Hancock’s online betting regulatory bill got a second hearing in the House of Commons on Jan. 25, 2013.

Such is the life of a lowly backbencher in the House of Commons, where only cabinet ministers are encouraged to introduce legislation. But Hancock, who counts major horseracing interests among his West Suffolk constituency, was determined to see his Offshore Gambling Bill win one of the lucky 13 slots available this year to legislation sponsored by anyone not heading a government portfolio. To ensure his spot at the front of the queue, Hancock press-ganged fellow Tories Charlie Elphicke and Ben Gummer along with Labour MP Thomas Docherty (pictured right, watching My Friend Flicka for the 12th time), who all pitched their tent (figuratively speaking) in the hallowed halls and settled in for a night of (we assume) ghost stories, playing ‘truth or dare’ and braiding each other’s hair.

While Hancock’s legislation still requires formal government support to become law, if passed it would impose a 15% tax on wagers made by UK residents with bookies operating from white-listed jurisdictions like Gibraltar. Hancock also hopes to impose a ‘betting right’ to compensate horseracing outfits for bookmakers’ use of their ‘intellectual property.’ After his bill was formally accepted by the Speaker of the House on Monday, Hancock crowed that it was “great news for racing” and that approval “can’t come soon enough for many of my constituents in Newmarket and the rest of the horseracing industry.”