Hopes that yesterday’s budget would help out the online gambling sector appear to have been dashed, after the Treasury set its new tax on remote betting in line with offline bookmakers at 15%.

The move is being seen as a setback for the industry, which had hoped for a lower rate that would encourage investment back to the UK from abroad.

It also seems unlikely to boost the government’s own efforts to attract online betting firms through deregulation, or help firms hit by last year’s ban in the US.

In a statement, Remote Gambling Association chairman John Coates said:

“This decision means that the UK has effectively turned its back on the industry. Quite simply, under this regime, with the additional VAT and corporation tax for most companies, it would be almost impossible for a UK-based operation to compete with offshore businesses, especially those located in other EU jurisdictions.”

Speaking to Reuters, BDO Stoy Hayward tax principal Martin Dane added:

“The Remote Gaming Duty has been set breathtakingly high, it will do nothing to attract the existing offshore industry onshore and it may indeed have the contrary effect. I really get the feeling the government is trying to take the maximum rake out of this in terms of revenue raising.”

Online gambling firms, however, have so far put a braver face on the move, with a spokesman for PartyGaming telling the news agency: “It’s not a surprise.”