October 11, 2023 3 min read


Irish Betting Shops Can Rest Easy as Government Postpones Levy Increases

The Irish government has posted its new budget, postponing the critical decision. The controversial measure caused significant debate, prompting further discussions

Ireland’s Minister of Finance, Michael McGrath, presented the country’s budget for the upcoming year, omitting any mention of the planned increase in the betting levy. The proposed change, an initiative first championed by the Labour Party, would see the tax rate rise from 2% to 3%, with the additional funds earmarked to support domestic sports projects.

An Increase Would Have Hurt Retail Bookmakers

Despite earlier discussions and support for the increased betting levy, Minister McGrath did not comment on the matter during the budget presentation, instead indicating that the government would explore the possibility of tax raises in the future. This delay in implementing the levy increase is a relief to retail bookmakers in Ireland, who were concerned about additional taxation. 

The Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) had previously expressed reservations about further betting tax increases, labeling them as unsustainable and detrimental. IBA chair Sharon Byrne noted that the recent economic downturn placed immense financial pressure on betting shops, with many teetering on the edge. The country’s gambling industry is in a tight place, as the number of shops recently reached an all-time low of roughly 750.

If the tax goes up again, they will be in deeper trouble. Hopefully, we have provided enough data and facts to demonstrate how another increase at a retail level is just not sustainable.

Sharon Byrne, IBA chair

Fortunately for betting shops, the new Irish budget omits mentions of levy increases, meaning they will be safe at least until 2024. The delay should hopefully give the government and stakeholders time to consider the best approach for boosting domestic sports without hurting the struggling retail betting sector. Byrne also urged the Irish regulator to address black market operators and safeguard local shops.

The Government Remains Committed to Supporting Sports

The proposal for the betting levy increase hoped to ring-fence additional revenue to fund domestic sports facilities, focusing on supporting football teams and addressing gender equality issues. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has requested €517 million ($549 million) from the Irish Government, placing a significant burden on the system. 

Minister McGrath noted that the government needed more time to determine how taxes could effectively support sports organizations in Ireland. He reaffirmed the government’s continued interest in exploring potential tax measures to benefit such initiatives. McGrath added that the current system provided significant reliefs to sporting organizations and charities, but stressed it could do significantly better.

I intend to examine how the tax system can be utilized to further support these organizations… This will involve examining the tax treatment of long-term strategic development funds.

Michael McGrath, Ireland Minister of Finance

The decision to postpone the betting levy increase in Ireland’s budget indicates a measured and deliberate approach by the government in exploring how tax measures can best support domestic sports projects. While the discussion will continue in the coming year, this budget decision provides temporary relief for the retail bookmaking industry.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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