The Irish gambling market is not the world’s largest. And now, it is threatened to get even smaller with Ladbrokes reportedly mulling a way out of it following the news of a new gambling tax
Ladbrokes Calls It a Day
Earlier this year, the government announced a tax hike that will target the gambling industry coming into effect in 2019. The levy is expected to go up to 2% from the present 1%. In a market sporting the modest size of Ireland, that’s the equivalent of a paradigm-changing shift.
With this in mind, some bookmakers have been scared enough to openly voice their concerns about job loss and even potential exit from the market. Though the percentage may seem negligible, it has been enough to prompt some bitter response from one of the country’s flagship bookmakers, Ladbrokes.
As reported, Ladbrokes may close as many as eight race courses and also withdraw its support from backing the country’s racing operations. Even though Irish Prime Minister Pascal Donohoe expects the changes to rake in €52 million in 2019, he didn’t anticipate the rather abrupt decision of bookmakers themselves.
Ladbrokes has acted quickly, too. Ladbroke’s Jackie Murphy who is in charge of Ireland has spoken to media outlets, letting it be known that the bulk of shops will be closed to cope with the changes and the only place that may remain operational is Punchestown.
Though the government and Ladbrokes haven’t butted heads on the issue, the operator seems determined to keep all its assets lucrative, following changes in Italy and the United Kingdom, two of the company’s main operational markets, and a brief tangle with the UK Gambling Commission last year.
A Long History with Ireland
Ladbrokes has been a conscientious backer of the racing industry in Ireland. The company has landed financial support for over 31 separate events, including some low-key ones intended to encourage local competitors to further develop the sport.
More disconcerting reports have come from Jessica Bridge, who’s responsible for Human Resources (HR) at Ladbrokes. According to Bridge, the company may need to completely pack up its operations in Ireland, as the new taxation measure is unjustifiable and unnecessary, according to her, voicing the company’s qualms.
Bridge did point out explicitly that the resulting increase will lead to job losses and the shutting down of multiple venues, reiterating the position of the company. Bridge also launched an appeal to the Irish government to reconsider their decision in a bid to mitigate what was to follow.
The company has been expanding its footprint internationally, too, although it has clearly had to adapt to changing legislation, as is now the most recent case with Ireland. Earlier this year, Ladbrokes had to suffer a one-day shut-down in Belgium, following a penalty.
Ladbrokes is also caught in another controversy where the company had agreed to pay a bet that it had initially cancelled. It’s also facing an Ibas investigation in related cases where customers are complaining over cancelled wagers.
If Ibas finds Ladbrokes to have been wrongly cancelling bets, the company may face something far more graver than the mild tax hike in Ireland, too.