Go-ahead for late racing could save up to 700 jobs in bookmakers
UP to 700 jobs in the betting industry could be saved after Dundalk racecourse got the go-ahead to hold meetings every Friday evening during the winter.
The move will allow bookmakers to open late every Friday. Under current rules, betting shops in the Republic have to close no later than 6.30pm after September 1 unless there is a race meeting in Ireland that night.
It is planned Dundalk will race every Friday between September 23 and March 30 2012 except for December 30.
Irish Bookmakers Association chairman Sharon Byrne said: "This is great news for the industry. These meetings will allow us to stay open and could help us retain up to 700 staff. It will help off-course bookmakers compete with the online operators too.
"There's always an uptake in the offices when Irish meetings are on and this will allow shops to retain staff that would normally be let go at the end of the summer.
"The extra night of late opening is a step in the right direction but we would like to see the shops allowed to open two or three nights a week when there are major sporting events such as Champions League football on. Online and phone betting remain open but the shops are forced to close which makes little sense," she added.