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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Liabilities: investigating liabilities: gambling debts

England, Wales and Scotland

The Gambling Act 2005 came into force on 1 September 2007. Section 335 of this Act provides that the fact that a contract relates to gambling shall not prevent its enforcement. This is without prejudice to any rule of law preventing the enforcement of a contract on the grounds of unlawfulness (other than a rule relating specifically to gambling). In other words, a gambling debt can be legally enforced, as long as it relates to gambling that is lawful. Gambling is lawful in the United Kingdom if it is permitted under the Gambling Act 2005 or the National Lottery etc. Act 1993, or is pursuant to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. So you can allow deductions for gambling debts if they can be legally enforced. This will include, for example, debts that arose from betting and gambling at licensed casinos and betting shops. You should not allow debts that relate to gambling that is not legal under the relevant legislation.

Before 1 September 2007 all gambling debts in England, Wales and Scotland were unenforceable. So, gambling debts of any kind that were incurred before this date are not valid deductions.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland gaming and wagering contracts are void under Article 170 of the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (NI) Order 1985, so they are not legally enforceable and are not valid deductions.