Bookmakers in the Republic of Ireland will receive a relief of up to €50,000 from the 2 per cent turnover tax levied on betting in the country in the 2020 Budget. The relief from betting duty and betting intermediary duty will come into effect from next year, and forms part of a cluster of tax policy changes in the upcoming Budget. As a result of this measure, bookmakers will not have to pay tax on the first €50,000 in wagers they take each year, a limit applicable in each calendar year. The relief will only apply to single undertakings.
The current 2 per cent turnover tax has been in place since January this year. However, in June 2019, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed that the process to replace this scheme with an alternative system for independent bookmakers was already in progress. Mr Donohoe stated that he had been working with the independent bookmaking sector to provide an alternative proposal. The department’s tax strategy group earlier this year suggested bringing in a relief of €2 million a year. This would give smaller independent bookmakers more leverage against titanic names such as Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Boylesports.
Betting tax in Ireland is expected to yield around €95 million by the end of 2019.
Disappointment For Horse And Greyhound Racing
On the other hand, the 2020 budget brought no such good news to the Irish Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund, whose annual contributions have frozen at €80m, of which €67.2m will go toward Horse Racing Ireland (HRI). The racing body helmed the push for government to raise the sports betting tax to 2.5 per cent of turnover, and had expected that its funding would rise accordingly.
HRI CEO Brian Kavanagh was quoted by the Irish Times on Tuesday as saying that he wasn’t surprised by the “stand still situation” for racing in the 2020 budget. Mr Kavanagh acknowledged that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit meant “the immediate priority is to get the country, and the equine industry, through the next few months.”
Gaming Reforms In Ireland Continue Apace
Meanwhile, Ireland’s placeholder legislation for the country’s betting and gaming sector has progressed to the committee stage in the Dáil Éireann. The Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 is designed to update Ireland’s 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Amendment Act by setting maximum gaming machine stakes at €10 and maximum gaming machine prizes at €750.
The bill will also formally impose age restriction of 18 years on betting and gaming products, and set out a new licensing system for lotteries. At the same time, work on the Gambling Control Bill, which supersedes the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 and establishes a dedicated regulatory authority for the market, is also ongoing.
Under the plans, the new body will oversee licensing and enforcement activities, as well as establish advertising standards, customer monitoring and customer protection measures for the sector.