Irish bookies to receive tax relief under 2020 budget

Announced as part of the Irish financial budget for 2020, bookmakers are set to receive a  €50,000 a year relief from the 2 per cent tax levied on betting in the Republic which is hoped will support the country’s independent bookmaking sector. 

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe confirmed yesterday that bookmakers across the Republic will not be subject to tax on the first €50,000 in wagers that they take in a year, however this will be subject to EU state aid rules.

Ireland’s independent sector has faced an up-hill battle in competing against larger betting operators such as Paddy Power, Boylesports and Ladbrokes following the doubling of the betting tax from one to two per cent last year.

While the tax rise is expected to generate an estimated €95m in 2019, a number of independent bookmakers have had to close their doors as a result. Bookmakers are obliged to place a tax on each bet tied with them, with the levy tied to State cash which is then used to support the horse and greyhound racing industries.

Also confirmed in the 2020 budget was that The Irish Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund will receive €80m in funding, of which €67.2m will be directed towards Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) – a figure that remains the same as last year. 

The unchanged budget, according to HRI’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh, has been attributed to the ‘stand still situation’ over Brexit in which he expressed no surprise that the budget remained the same.

“All this is framed in a Brexit contest,” he said. “We have long terms plans to develop the industry and they will need funding. But the main short terms issue is Brexit and in the context of the threat of a no-deal Brexit it was never going to be a year of initiatives.

“It’s a stand still situation. We’ll have to take this away and look at the implications for our own budget. It will make the budget process trickier and tighter.

“But the more immediate priority is to get the country, and the equine industry, through the next few months.”

It has been suggested that funding to the sector may be boosted again given the projected rise in betting revenue due to the doubling of tax this year, while Kavanagh emphasised that HRI will examine a number of the Brexit assistance funds set up by the state to see if some equine businesses will qualify.

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