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Irish Bookmakers Association flexes muscle as tax hike halted

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The Irish Bookmaker Association says a proposed tax would cripple the industry.

Bookmakers in Ireland can now temporarily breathe a sigh of relief after winning a reprieve from the government’s business-crippling betting taxes.

A report by the Times last week said the Irish Minister of Finance Paschal Donohoe has halted his plans to increase to 2% the tax on bookmakers betting turnover from January 1, 2019.

He has now decided to conduct a review of the impact of any tax hike on the betting industry, to be completed probably next year.

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Last October, the minister announced the intended tax hike while unveiling his budget for next year. The announcement drew a huge reaction from the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA), who claimed that any hike would result in the closure of the majority of the country’s remaining 855 betting shops and the loss of thousands of jobs.

The director of Tully Bookmakers, Paul Tully, reiterated the effects of any hike, saying the rise would “make us totally unviable,” adding he would have to close about 18 shops with about 70 workers losing their job.

Last week, the IBA managed to convince some lawmakers to propose an alternate tax scheme. This would see retail bookmakers’ pay a 10% tax on wagering revenue with online bookies paying 20%.

According to them, the plan would earn government more tax revenue than the proposed 2% turnover tax, because there will be more betting operations still left open to tax.

They were able to get some parliamentary support including from Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson, who advised the finance minister to find another way.

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