Gambling has always been favored in Ireland and as a result reason one can find several clubs, bingo halls, sports betting halls offering lotteries and other forms of gambling. Governed by the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, the gambling industry of Ireland is a bit different from those in other countries of the world. The Act considers casino gambling as illegal but allows private clubs to provide gambling opportunities. For this reason, the private casinos pose as private clubs and offer unlimited gambling opportunities to their patrons.
On the other hand, online gambling has garnered quite a lot of support in Ireland. Although the licensing for online gambling only came in 2003, already one can find several Irish men and women registered with online casinos and other gambling websites. Moreover, with the exemption of the online websites from paying any betting duty or tax, the attraction to gamble has been great. However, the scenario is set to change as expected after the recent announcement made by Ireland’s Minister of Finance.
As per his speech, indications were made towards the inclusion of the domestic players into the ambit of betting duty, which until now was limited to the betting shops. The betting duty in Ireland is 1% and is paid only by those Irish customers that place their bets through the betting shops. Therefore, those Irish customers who were betting with offshore entities, either online or through the telephone were exempted from paying any betting duty.
As per the intentions speechified by the Finance Minister, the government is intending to include all bookmakers, whether online or offline, but taking Irish bets, to pay the 1% betting duty, just like the betting shops. Even the betting exchanges would not be spared and would have to pay the tax, only with different method of calculating the tax.
This can come as a shocker for those that considered Ireland a safe haven for online gambling as they were exempted from betting duty. The announcement is seen as a step to safeguard the interests of the small bookmakers and bring a level amongst the online and offline bookmakers. In addition, the move is also seen as a step to boost the once-popular horseracing industry, which in the recent years has suffered a downturn resulting in a loss to the exchequer. Moreover, one of the reasons to include online operators into the tax regime is to boost the coffers of the State.
One thing that is still not clear is the way the tax would be applied. The picture regarding the realm of the tax would be clear only when the Finance Bill is presented in detail. At present it is unclear whether all the bookmakers based in Ireland only would be brought under the tax ambit or whether all those that take bets from Ireland, irrespective of their location.
What these things clearly indicate is that the Irish government is seriously contemplating changes in its existing betting laws to bring reforms in the internet gambling industry. The hopes are alive to make Ireland an attractive place for casinos, gambling and betting.