Irish Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has backed the country’s betting tax regime following a number of claims from Irish TD’s that the increased levy has put over 1,800 jobs at risk.
Speaking at the Dáil yesterday, Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty emphasised to the committee that first quarter results for the industry have demonstrated that smaller, independent bookmakers across Ireland are struggling to compete with larger operators, and that overall turnover across the industry had taken a hit.
“The first-quarter receipts and returns show a big disparity because the independent bookmakers, in which approximately 1,800 jobs are at risk, have made the returns but have not been able to pay the 2 per cent,” he said.
He urged Donohoe to consider changing the system, which had previously seen betting duty rate jump from one to two per cent earlier this year: “If there is a way to signal to the industry that a change is coming, that will give them the confidence to go to their bank managers and hold on a little longer. Many of these are in rural, isolated communities.”
Donohoe backed the levy reform, however, arguing that the changes have meant the betting sector has made a ‘fair contribution’ to the exchequer.
Donohoe has previously issued a promise to develop a new proposal for a gross profit tax model, where bookmaker’s profits would be taken into account rather than their turnover. The current model was developed by the government in commitment to the Independent Alliance when the minority coalition was formed.
“I have held numerous meetings with representatives of the independent betting sector and have met directly with companies to hear their views,” he said. “They have furnished me with a proposal and I am now engaging with the European Commission to ascertain whether that can be implemented.
“In the tax strategy group paper that will be published by the summer we will provide an update to the Oireachtas on the options on that issue.”
Donohoe said: “We will track the tax collection through the year. The purpose of the tax strategy group process is to indicate what options there are for budget-day decisions.”