In a devastating blow to Irish bookmakers, the national budget was unveiled yesterday delivering a significant increase to betting tax in the country.
After much speculation and heated debate, Ireland’s Minister for finance Paschal Donohoe increased the overall betting tax in the country to two per cent, reversing the 2007 budget which had previously halved it to one per cent.
The tough news doesn’t end there, as gambling exchanges also felt the wrath of what was dubbed as the ‘caring budget’, with duties on bookmakers match wagers between customers, increasing from 15 per cent to 25 per cent.
Irish operator Paddy Power warned the effects will have damaging consequences on the industry, something that’s only likely to be heightened by the lack of progress with the revamped Irish Gambling Bill which has remained in a state of limbo for the past decade.
Of the mainstream operators, it’s calculated that Paddy Power will suffer more severely than BoyleSports and Ladbrokes, with the it having the largest footprint in the country, additionally Ireland is home to a further 200 independent betting shops, which Sharon Byrne, chairperson of the Irish Bookmakers Association has anticipated will be greatly damaged from the increase.
As reported by the Racing Post, Byrne, reacted to the news: “Over the last eight to ten years we have already lost 450 shops, all of which were independents, of which only 200 have survived, and they are now gone in one swipe of the pen,”
Warning of the potentially daunting implications, she continued: “We had 1,365 shops in 2008. We were down to 850 and it had kind of stabilised this year. Now, the 200 independents that were able to survive have no hope. I’ve taken calls from them all morning – they are distraught. I’m calling an emergency meeting of the association for Friday morning to see what we can do.
“Fifteen minutes before the minister made the announcement he had just been talking about how important it was to save all the little jobs in the country and provide support to small companies, and then he wipes out these shops across the country.
“It will force punters to off-shore operators and black markets. Most of these towns only have one shop and they are going to be gone, so punters will either go online or to the black market.”