Ladbrokes could cut as many as 600 jobs from bookies in the Republic of Ireland. Joe Lewins, chief executive of Ladbrokes Ireland, believes around 150 of their shops are at risk due to the recession hitting revenues hard. In the Irish Times piece, Lewins told how the firm had to close four shops in December and for the moment it has plugged the leak but they can’t be sure how long for.
There are a number of ideas flying round as to how the country’s gambling industry can go in the right direction. Minister for agriculture Simon Coveney has control over the country’s horse racing industry and thinks that a change in tax is the way to go. Bookmakers are supporting a change in the 1% turnover tax to a 10% levy on gross profits. It would provide more money to the state (€3million) as well as help smaller independent bookies.
In total, Ireland has around 1,102 bookies and a combination of a loss of punters in store and online competition has seen revenue fall drastically. To remedy the shortfall in numbers, Lewins is supporting plans for opening hours being extended. It would mean shops able to stay open until 9:30pm six days a week from September to April. At the moment the only late night opening is on Friday.
More interesting is that bookies want to be allowed to let customers use tablet PCs, owned by the shops themselves, to make bets whilst on the premises thus competing with online betting. The three suggestions put together would generate an extra €10m in tax taken from betting on a yearly basis. Bookmakers suffering is not something that anyone likes to see given that they’re very often the social gathering point for small communities and we can only hope that Ireland gets out of its current rut.