In October 2010, online sports betting website Betfair, frustrated by the UK government’s failure to properly regulate offshore betting sites, threatened to move their head offices out of the country. Recent changes to British gambling laws initiated by the British Horseracing Authority saw taxes on certain types of sports betting increase, and Betfair felt unfairly disadvantaged as they watched their competition enjoy much higher profits while operating out of other countries.
This threat is now more real than ever, as Betfair announces they are moving a portion of their UK operations to Ireland. The betting group is building a new data center in Dublin, and will relocate its customer operations to the city. The new office it is expected to create at least 100 new jobs, and is already setting up recruitment operations in the city. The move will happen sometime early next year, and current UK employees will be given the opportunity to relocate if they so desire.
“Ireland has become a primary destination for world-leading online companies, and we are proud to be joining other global technology firms in making a significant investment here,” says Betfair chief executive David Yu.
Betfair will continue to offer internet betting in the United Kingdom. A spokesperson for the company says there are no plans to relocate at the moment, and that the bookmaker “will continue to pay the UK horseracing levy, and all other statutory requirements, as required”. The group was recently listed on the London Stock Exchange, and has a significant presence in the country, making a complete relocation difficult.
In mid-2010, William Hill, a group which also offers an online sportsbook in the UK, moved their operations out of the country entirely and set up shop in Gibraltar, leaving behind UK’s 15 percent tax for a much lighter 3 percent. Whether or not Betfair will follow suit remains a subject of speculation.