The IBA criticizes a possible increase in fees

Business News

The Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) has submitted its recommendations to the Government’s review of the betting duty regime, and said that the tax system must be fair to the domestic retail sector and internationally competitive.

The regime is being examined as part of the Tax Strategy Group process, which feeds into the broader yearly Budget cycle. The Group has been asked to consider the roll out of the duty regime to remote bookmakers and betting exchanges in 2015, and to look at the likely impact of an increase in the rates of betting duty on government revenues and on the bookmaking industry.

The IBA said that the retail bookmaking sector has undergone a severe decline over the past decade. Total stakes fell from EUR3.6bn (USD4.2bn) in 2007 to EUR2.8bn in 2016, and the number of retail land-based betting establishments dropped from 1,365 in 2008 to 851 in 2016.

According to the IBA, this decline “has arisen from the economic collapse, penal betting tax, increased fixed costs, loss of revenue to illegal operators, and severe competition from internet-based betting platforms.”

In its submission to the review, the IBA said that all sectors involved in the gambling industry should be included in the betting tax net. The gambling tax regime was extended to the remote sector in 2015. The IBA also argued that the tax regime should support the retail sector, because of its economic, regional, and employment roles, and that the overall tax regime should be internationally competitive.

The IBA recommended that the Tax Strategy Group should consider lowering to 0.25 percent the current one percent tax on turnover, for those shops with annual turnover of EUR2m or less. It said that this could be financed in part by an extension of the tax net.

The IBA also called for the one percent rate to be frozen, and warned that any increase would “eliminate a large proportion of the current network of shops.” It said that, as there has only been one full calendar year of receipts under the new regime, the existing rates of tax and licence fees should be retained.

The IBA added that the Government should not move from taxing the bookmaker to taxing the punter, which was one of the options mooted in the consultation.