Unclaimed Winnings – Whose Money is It?
When a customer does not pick up his winnings to whom does the money belong? The bookmaker?
The customer where his winnings lay in perpetuity for collection? Or government?

As a part of the Lib-Con coalition government in the UK the Conservative Party had to inevitably make concessions to bring on board the Liberals. One concession was to appease Don Foster MP, a stalwart Liberal, who is vexed about gamblers not claiming their winnings in Britain’ betting shops and Internet gamblers forgetting they have a deposit with an Internet bookmaker. 

The money, according to Foster, is not the bookmakers’ money and after a period of time should be handed over to a fund organised by government for a good cause.
There are many examples of lost deposits in commercial life. A passenger who does not show up for an airline seat is not entitled to a refund, even though the airline may sell on the seat for a profit. Theatre tickets already purchased, where the customer is unable to attend, cannot usually get a refund. There are numerous examples all of which add up to a lot more than a few unclaimed betting shop winnings. So why would government decide that this is a policy worth pursuing?
The answer of course is discrimination. In spite of all the hard work put in by the industry to comply with government regulations the industry is still singled out for blatant discrimination. 
The problem, so far as the UK is concerned, is that the majority of unclaimed winnings are in fact palpable staff errors where selections have been keyed in incorrectly, even with EPOS. On the system it is classed as a winner but the punter is unaware because in his mind he has backed a different (losing) selection.
Such errors would have to be checked manually. This would be time consuming and costly to the industry and would have a negative implication on corporation tax payments, horserace betting levy and betting tax.
Bookmakers in the UK already contribute to the Responsibility in Gambling Trust and The British Greyhound Racing Fund, both of which are voluntary contributions.
It does beg the question why the new Conservative government is seeking to carry the baton of the previous Labour government and to micro-manage the economy. People voted for change not the same.