The Minister of Finance of Ireland, Michael Noonan, had made attempts to enact the Ireland’s Betting (Amendment) Bill to introduce a new tax rate for online bookmakers and betting exchanges. The Betting (Amendment) Bill introduces a legal basis for the regulation of gambling, estimating that it would generate an additional €25m in tax revenue, €6m of which, will be used to support the country’s greyhound and horse racing industry, with a further €5m allocated to maintaining Ireland’s racetracks.
The Betting (Amendment) Bill was submitted to the European Commission in July 2014, including amendments enforcing a ban on unlicensed operators. The amendments allow the Irish government to issue unlicensed operators with a compliance notice, asking them to shut down their operation by a set date, and allowing companies to appeal the notice.
The country’s Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, announced his intention of introducing a broader gambling control bill midway through 2015, providing a framework for the wider industry. The terms of the Act would include licensing and compliance powers, and would replace existing legislation: the Betting Act 1931 and the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act, as well as, amending the 2002 Finance Act.
The legislation has been delayed a number of times, and, after Malta has raised its concerns in relation to licensing laws for operators who are already licensed by another jurisdiction, the standstill period it is currently subject to has been extended into January 2015.
Once the standstill period ends, the Minister of Finance will still have to progress all remaining stages of the Bill through the Irish parliament. The new tax in Ireland will hit operators like Paddy Powers and bookmakers like Ladbrokes and William Hill, which already suffered additional tax and tighter regulation in the UK.
Ireland first announced plans to regulate online gambling in 2011 when a new Finance Act sought to extend a one percent tax on bets placed in shops to wagers made online over the telephone from customers based in Ireland, however, it has struggled to pass new legislation into law since.
by Denitza Dimitrova
LL.B., LL.M., Mag.Jur.