Wednesday 20 February 2019

Boylesports founder warns tax hike threatens 300 jobs

 

Boylesports founder John Boyle said he was ‘shocked’ at the tax increase in the Budget
Boylesports founder John Boyle said he was ‘shocked’ at the tax increase in the Budget
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

John Boyle, the founder of Ireland's largest independent betting chain, Boylesports, has claimed that dozens of his stores will no longer be viable as a result of a hike in betting duty in the Budget, putting more than 300 jobs at risk.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe announced in the Budget that the tax would double from 1pc to 2pc in 2019 after staying untouched for several years.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent Boyle said: "We've looked at our business and what our books are telling us is that there would be 56 closures, they would move into a loss-making scenario which would equate to 336 jobs." He said it would affect four full-time employees and two part-timers in each shop.

His estimate is that across the industry there would be 2,500 jobs lost. "The 2pc tax just can't go through in retail," he said.

Boyle, who stood down from the role of company CEO last year, handing over the reins to his son-in-law Conor Gray, said that the industry currently contributes around €50m to the Exchequer in betting taxes.

According to Department of Finance documents, the betting duty changes will bring in almost €40m in additional taxes in 2019 and €53m in 2020.

Boyle said that profits for entire Irish retail betting sector are around €33ma year.

After the Budget Donohoe said that he had held a consultation with the industry in relation to various changes for the sector but "couldn't get agreement from the industry in relation to it".

"I have increased the tax because I do need to raise revenue to be able to pay for public services that we need overall. In the absence of agreement, I decided on something that needed to be done," he said.

Boyle said that the increase was not expected in Budget 2019. "We weren't expecting it - as industry, our understanding was that next year our sector was going to be looked at. I was completely shocked and I am sure all independent bookmakers were the same," said Boyle.

He described the increase as "nonsensical and impossible". He said it would be bad news for the overall retail scene in Ireland.

While the industry has reacted angrily to the tax hike, Horse Racing Ireland has welcomed the move, stating that the tax was lower than in other countries.

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