Opening hours law costing jobs, claim bookies
Bookmakers hit out today at 80-year-old laws on opening hours, claiming they cost 500 betting shop jobs last month.
The Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) said its members were forced to lay off hundreds of staff as outlets must revert to shorter winter business every September.
From March until the end of August shops can trade until 10pm, but they are forced to close by 6.30pm during the rest of the year.
Sharon Byrne, IBA chairperson, said Government policy was adding to the record numbers of unemployed.
"By forcing betting shops to close early, through legislation which will soon celebrate its 80th birthday, an extra 500 people are forced on to the dole queue," she said.
"This makes no sense for the 500 unemployed, for the betting sector or for the Exchequer."
The IBA wants the shops open until 10pm at least three nights a week in winter.
"The betting sector has changed radically since the time the Betting Act 1931 was written," Ms Byrne said.
"Online and telephone betting can be done at any time, yet betting shops must close by 6.30pm from September 1st to March 31st unless there is an Irish race running after that time.
"Betting shops - which make a real contribution to the Exchequer - are therefore seriously disadvantaged, adding even greater pressure to a sector under stress."