Ireland’s Department of Finance is considering the renewed calls for doubling the betting tax in the budget, in order to get more money for funding gambling addiction services.
John Halligan, an Independent Alliance Minister, has urged the country’s Government to make sure the betting tax is increased from 1% to 2%. According to him and other proponents of the measure, such an increase would bring an additional annual revenue of €50 million for the exchequer. Mr. Halligan noted that there must be a guarantee that the extra €50 million would not be spent on anything else but on problem gambling services.
The Independent Alliance Minister also shared in the RTÉ’s Today Show that gambling-related harm and other issues associated with gambling are brought into light every few months, especially when a high-profile professional athlete publicly admits they have a problem with gambling. However, he reminded that a large number of regular people are also dealing with the negative consequences of addictive gambling literally destroying thousands of lives and families.
The betting tax in Ireland currently amounts to 1% of the gambling operators’ revenue and is one of the lowest in Europe.
Larger Gambling Operators Can Afford Higher Betting Tax
For some time now, both politicians and anti-gambling campaigners have called for a tax increase. According to Mr. Halligan, this time, the Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is considering the possibility of such an increase.
A spokesperson of the Department of Finance, however, refused to make any comments and speculations on the matter. The spokesman explained that an increase of the betting tax rate from 1% to 2% for both the land-based and remote gambling operators would bring a 50% increase of tax receipts from €51.5 million in 2018 to more than €100 million in 2019.
In July, the Independent Alliance had a meeting with Mr. Donohoe to discuss the matter. At the meeting, the budget wish list of the Alliance was proposed, including the desired increase of the betting tax.
Mr. Halligan explained that a research carried out by the Irish Institute of Public Health back in 2010 showed that 40,000 Irish citizens are problem gamblers. The Minister further noted that for the time being, Ireland sees the highest losses generated from gambling on the territory of Europe. Unfortunately, he also explained that the actual number of people who currently suffer from gambling problems is probably much higher than the officially reported one.
Irish gamblers have been blamed for their fascination with gaming machines, which have been considered highly addictive. Lately, the Irish Government has been taking into consideration the increased problem gambling rates. According to the Waterford TD, the larger gambling operators that currently control the majority of the 900 betting outlets across Ireland would be able to afford the higher tax. Local bookmakers, however, have argued that a higher tax would have a negative influence on their business, which could lead to layoffs and shops closures.