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Boylesports warns of job losses in Ireland

| By iGB Editorial Team
Industry unites for four-week fight to force gambling tax U-turn

Irish bookmaking giant Boylesports has warned staff that the doubling of betting tax will cost jobs, as the industry embarks on a four-week fight to reverse the government’s Budget.

The council of the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) met on Friday to agree a united response to last Wednesday’s Budget announcement. Developments include the hiring of a media company to help publicise the plight of the industry and the risk to thousands of jobs, while a professor of economics is authoring a study to highlight the impact of the 100% rise in gambling turnover tax. The IBA and senior figures from the industry are arranging meetings with government officials and members of parliament, while an online petition and poster campaign have been launched.

iGamingBusiness.com understands that the prospect of a half-day or even full-day strike, whereby betting shops would close as staff picketed government offices, has also been raised.

It is thought there is a three- or four-week window between the Budget and its passing into law in the Finance Bill. The bookmaking industry is desperate to force a U-turn during that period, with leading independent Tully’s having indicated that around half of its shops will close on January 1 if the tax changed is introduced.

Boylesports, one of Ireland’s big three high street chains along with Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, is believed to be reviewing all its shops as a result of the measure. It confirmed the seriousness of the situation in a letter to staff across its 250 shops.

Boylesports management said: “We are committed to making Government and all relevant agencies understand the impact this poorly-considered policy will have on the sector, our business, us and our families.

“We will take all steps available to safeguard our business, our industry and most importantly the employment of all our people.”

Paddy Power Betfair’s share price fell by as much as 7% last week in the aftermath of Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe’s Budget announcement on the rise in the point-of-consumption turnover tax from 1% to 2%, which the government hopes will raise €50m. That figure has been branded a “fantasy” by the IBA.

The current tax rate, which was introduced in 2015, is on top of standard business charges. Irish gambling companies are unable to recover VAT on purchases, while turnover is impacted by the ban on FOBTs in betting shops.

The IBA believes the Finance Minister should have followed the conclusions of last year’s Department of Finance report, which advocated a gross profit tax used in many other countries. It fears 1,500 jobs will be lost and hundreds of independent companies will go out of business.

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