Online bookmakers in the Republic of Ireland may soon be subject to an additional duty. The government has proposed legislation that would levy a one percent betting duty on online betting operators.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has published the Betting (Amendment) Bill which will update the country’s 1931 Betting Act. The amendment’s focus is on offshore online bookmakers, however betting exchanges (like Betfair) would also be expected to pay a 15 percent gross profits tax. The bill makes no mention of standalone online poker companies, which would seem to indicate that they are not covered in the new gambling legislation. However, many online bookmakers in Ireland offer poker as part of their services, and this is likely going to fall under the new duty.
“This Bill will bring into place a fair and equitable licensing and regulatory regime for all bookmakers and betting intermediaries,” Noonan told the press. “The fact that offshore bookmakers were not subject to the betting levy represented a competitive disadvantage to on-shore firms and also narrowed the state’s yield from the levy.”
The bill would also allow brick and mortar betting shops to stay open until 10pm. At the moment, shops in Ireland have to close at 6pm, unless there is an evening meeting. In addition, should the Betting Bill pass, online bookmakers and exchanges in other jurisdictions will need to acquire a license before they can accept wages from residents of Ireland.
Instead of being a hindrance to potential investment from foreign gambling firms, Noonan believes this system will in fact help boost interest from abroad. The thinking is that a proper licensing system, coupled with the country’s relatively low taxes, will make Ireland a more attractive and competitive-friendly destination for international operators.
“There is significant downstream revenue potential from investment by major firms that have expressed strong interest in Ireland as a base for their operations,” Noonan said.
Last year, Ireland earned €27 million in revenues from betting duties. No word yet on how much more would be generated with the proposed amendment.
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