Word is going around the internet this week that Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan may soon propose a gambling tax increase. Changes to Irish gambling laws as a part of December’s budget review could see the existing 1% tax on gambling turnover extended to include online operators, a possibility that has internet gambling providers nervous.
Another rumor has said that a 2% tax might also be levied on players who win money at online sportsbooks in Ireland. This possibility has also sparked an outcry in the island nation.
The Irish Bookmakers’ Association has suggested that these tax increases could cause a huge number of betting shops in Ireland to close their doors, taking hundreds of jobs down with them. “We believe that 400 of the 1,200 would shut up overnight. It would kill jobs in the industry,” said IBA chairwoman Sharon Byrne.
The closures would be caused by a mass exodus of clients. Punters facing a possible 2% tax on their winnings would be less inclined to gamble locally, and would instead take their money to offshore internet sportsbooks. “Paradoxically, therefore, rather than strengthening the contribution of the betting sector to the Irish Exchequer this new taxation would have the opposite effect,” said Ms Byrne.
Turnover at many of Ireland’s betting shops has already dropped as much as 40% in the last two years, and further losses would force many into closure.
Meanwhile, the government has its eyes set on their estimated €60 billion income boost that could come from the tax increases. Presumably this figure is based on current numbers, but if punters stop betting locally, this number is probably too optimistic.