Thursday 22 March 2018

Bookies demand level playing field on betting taxes


Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

BOOKMAKERS yesterday warned the Government to enforce the proposed changes to betting tax across the entire sector, or risk losing business here.

In Tuesday's Budget, Finance Minister Michael Noonan outlined plans to impose a 1pc tax on online and telephone betting, while there will be a 15pc charge on commissions gained in Ireland by so-called "offshore" gambling firms.

While the enforcement of the laws are still being worked out -- legislation is not expected until the spring -- most of the major firms here said they would be happy to pay the duty, if the moves were enforced across all companies operating here.

A spokesman for Boylesports said his firm would wait to see what the final legislation would bring, but cautioned against the Government pressing on with the changes until the finer points had been worked out.

"We have always said we would support the plan to tax online and phone betting, but it must be implemented right across the industry. It cannot just hit Irish-based firms like ourselves.

"The likes of Boylesports and Paddy Power employ thousands of people in the State so any move to tax us but not our competitors from outside would be very problematic," he said.

Paddy Power has taken a similar stance, as has Ladbrokes.

On Tuesday, Mr Noonan also highlighted plans to introduce a betting intermediaries' duty of 15pc to cover betting exchanges, an issue concerning the industry for sometime.

As things stand, a punter in Ireland can gamble on an exchange such as Betfair tax-free.

The State has been looking for some way to raise revenue from the sector but bookmakers were last night concerned about the ability to collect the levy efficiently.

"The devil will be in the detail.

"How will the Government go about this? As it stands, they will be relying on an exchange owning up to just how much business it does here with no checks, so that will have to be sorted out first," said one.

David Jennings, an analyst with Davy Stockbrokers, said: "For the major Irish online betting providers, the focus will now be on ensuring that tax authorities enforce payment of the tax on all operators accepting bets from Ireland, including many based offshore."

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