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Bookmakers Offer Irish Punters A Way To Escape Betting Tax

by Amanda Banks, Tax-News.com, London

26 November 2001


The Irish media has reported that bookmakers in the country are stepping up the pressure on the government to abolish the betting tax by installing direct phone lines and Internet link-ups in their premises to betting services in the UK where punters can bet tax-free.

The UK betting tax was replaced last month by a 15 per cent deduction on the gross profits of bookmakers as a concessionary move announced in Chancellor Gordon Brown's last budget to entice some of the major UK players back from their offshore, low tax locations.

Since then Irish-based bookmakers have consistently protested against the government's decision not to follow suit and industry leaders have warned that thousands of jobs could be lost if the inequality between Ireland and the UK and offshore betting centres is not dealt with.

Already William Hill announced its decision to close its Irish call centres and relocate them to the UK, resulting in the loss of over 300 jobs.

According to the Irish Independent, callers to Paddy Power's Tallaght facility are currently given a tax-free service because the company absorbs the tax bill itself, but Power boss Stewart Kenny says this can not last and has decided to offer punters the option of betting by telephone to the UK as a way round the situation with 1800 free lines already up and running in its Dublin Baggot Street premises. There are also plans to install Internet terminals in the near future.

Ladbrokes is also offering direct links to the UK with phone lines and internet terminals in its Duke Street premises in Dublin with plans to extend the service to other locations around Ireland.

'We did not have a choice in this, we did it to protect our business,' Mr Kenny told reporters.



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