Ireland online bet licensing changes; UK tax plan could reap £242m annually


irish-online-betting-law-uk-gambling-taxIreland’s Minister of Finance Michael Noonan has published the country’s long-awaited Betting (Amendment) Bill 2012, which will compel any bookmaker taking bets from Irish residents to obtain an Irish betting license. Irish-based bookies that take in more than €200k or 10% of their total turnover online, as well as online bookies based outside Ireland taking bets from Irish punters, will be required to hold a ‘remote bookmaker’s license’ while betting exchanges such as Betfair will require a ‘remote betting intermediary’s license.’ Licenses will cost €5k to obtain and renew. Under the terms sketched out in the 2011 Finance Act, bookies taking online bets from Irish punters will be subject to a 1% betting duty while betting exchanges pay a 15% ‘intermediary duty’ on the commissions earned from handling peer-to-peer wagers.

Failure to obtain the necessary licenses will result in criminal charges being laid against offenders, with fines of up to €150k and prison sentences of up to five years awaiting those unlucky enough to be convicted. Irish politicians will vote on the bill following their summer recess, and assuming the changes pass muster with the European Commission, the new regime would take effect at the start of 2013. The changes have been designed in part to help bail out the country’s struggling horse racing industry, which has seen its fortunes slide over the past decade due to younger generations being less enamored of the smell of horseshit than their forebears.

Across the Irish Sea, the UK government’s proposed 15% point of consumption (POC) tax on internet betting is expected to bring in between £239-£242m in annual revenues, according to’s European Online Regulated Markets Data Report 2012. Based on 2011 figures showing the UK market generating £1.71b in net gaming revenue, the government could expect to reap £252m in taxes, assuming 100% of operators were willing to ante up willingly, but GamblingData suggested the avoidance rate could fall between 5.25%-7.25%. At present, it’s estimated that the UK gov’t earns less than 10% of online gambling net revenues derived from UK punters. The gov’t is currently consulting with stakeholders on the proposed POC tax, which it hopes to implement by the end of 2014.

GamblingData also broke down the UK online market in terms of operator share. William Hill came out on top, with its retail and online operations combining for 15% (£252.9m) of the market. Betfair came second with 11%, followed by Bet365 (9.5%), Paddy Power (8%), Ladbrokes (7.5%), PokerStars (6%), Gamesys (5.5%), 888 (5%), SkyBet and (tied with 4.5%), Rank/Mecca/Blue Square and Gala Coral (tied with 4%) with other operators accounting for the remaining 15.5%.