Time to reel in offshore bookies
At a stroke, Brian Lenihan addressed the anomaly of bookmakers avoiding tax when the finance minister outlined plans to tax online and telephone betting outfits in his budget. Lenihan's plans also embrace betting exchanges and offshore traders -- but meanwhile, over in Britain, the government dithers over identical issues that cut hard into racing's revenues.
Granted, Ireland's economy is in dire need of peps from any source -- including the €20m that might flow from a new tax regime. But if that figure is correct, higher turnover levels in Britain would generate a far greater sum for the government -- not to mention a commensurate rise in the annual levy through which British racing is funded.
Some British bookmakers insist they would happily dismantle their offshore networks and return home if a level playing field rendered tax and levy avoidance obsolete. Fair enough -- except that by moving offshore, bookmakers ploughed up the field in the first place.