Bookies: Hike will cause closures

MEMBERS of the Irish Bookmakers’ Association (IBA) are planning to aggressively lobby the Government to dramatically change the terms of its betting €40 million duty hike, in a bid to avoid widespread business closures and job losses in the industry.

The move by Minister of Finance Brian Lenihan in last week’s Budget, to increase the betting duty rate payable by bookmakers — basically, the tax they pay on the amounts of money bet by punters in their shops — from 1% to 2% is seen as a death knell for many independent bookies.

The IBA has already said that 200 independent businesses are in danger of going to the wall.

The IBA wants the tax shifted from company turnovers to a tax deductible levy on gross profits — meaning companies who make bigger gross wins get taxed the most. That would, potentially, be fairer to smaller retail chains. Also wanted is a clamping down on the running of telephone and Iinternet betting, much of which is not taxed here as many operations are sourced offshore.

Former Fine Gael TD, Ivan Yates, head of Celtic Bookmakers and an IBA board member, said that bookies were being shafted by the increase and that it is creating “the perfect storm” for the industry.

“Many independent chains haven’t got net margins of 2%, so this tax rise is guaranteeing they won’t have a livelihood,” he said, adding that the effect on smaller bookmakers would probably create more consolidation in the Irish market.


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