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Anne Lindner

UK Betting Duty Causing Controversy in Ireland

6 November 2001

Now that the United Kingdom's betting tax has been recycled into a tax on betting turnover, Irish bookmakers are saying they need a similar tax rate in order to stay competitive.

Otherwise, warns Stewart Kenny, chief executive of Power Leisure plc, Irish jobs could be lost to the United Kingdom as Irish operations transplant themselves in Britain in order to enjoy its favorable betting duty.

Kenny said his company, which operates the Internet betting site, moved its server to London in mid-October because of the tax situation. There are no plans to move the entire business, however.

"At this point we've just moved the server, but what the future will hold we don't know," he said.

On Oct. 6 England's nine percent tax on betting--which had driven many bookmakers to move their operations offshore to tax-free islands like Gibraltar and Alderney--was replaced by a 15 percent tax on turnover. Already, some of the biggest names in U.K. bookmaking are beginning to move back onshore.

In Ireland, however, the betting tax remains at 5 percent per bet. William Hill has already moved its call center in Athlone to the United Kingdom, resulting in 300 jobs lost from Ireland, in order to escape the tax. Kenny said unless the government reacts quickly to change the levy, even more jobs could be lost.

"In the long term it's something we don't know," he said. "It's something we are keeping a watch on."

Kenny said he is meeting with Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy within the next ten days and that he will ask McCreevy to make the situation more favorable to Irish bookmakers. If the tax situation doesn't change, Kenny said his company will permanently leave its server in the United Kingdom.

"We’re going to ask him to, in order to save jobs or create more jobs, dramatically reduce the tax in Ireland if not abolish it," he said.

A tax rate that is favorable to Kenny, who is also the spokesman for the Allied Betting Shops Association, would be less than one percent, which he believes is equal to a 15 percent tax on turnover.

"We would like to see the Irish government match it or meet it," he said.

UK Betting Duty Causing Controversy in Ireland is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner