All bets are on the table
W hen the horse racing industry is seeking to secure its funding from the Exchequer, the one thing it has in its favour is that it can point to an area where the money needed can be raised.
It is a pity then that Horse Racing Ireland and the Irish Bookmakers' Association have chosen to become embroiled in a highly public tit-for-tat dispute in recent weeks, not least because the two would appear to be saying the same thing: betting tax as it currently stands is inequitable and needs to be reformed.
All the indications are that there will be some movement on the betting tax issue -- if not in the Budget then certainly early in 2011 -- to significantly raise the amount of revenue it generates for Government. In the Dáil recently, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said options were being explored to widen the tax net, implying that the plan is to tax ALL bets placed in Ireland, including online, and not just those made in betting shops. Industry sources suggest this would increase the yield by at least 30 per cent.
The IBA would, in principle, support this, HRI would support this and so too would Paddy Power, who last week announced over 300 new jobs for its online hub in Tallaght. Given that the firm has threatened to pull out of Ireland if just Irish-based business is targeted, it is highly improbable that they would take such a bold step if they weren't confident that the reforms will be sweeping.