Ireland’s tax hike for betting operators will go ahead as planned on January 1 while the government conducts its review of the hike’s impact.
Last week, media outlets reported that Ireland had decided to postpone the planned January 1 doubling of the current 1% tax on Irish-licensed bookmakers’ betting turnover, in order that Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe could conduct a review of the tax hike’s likely impact on the betting industry.
However, the Finance Ministry has since confirmed that the turnover tax hike – as well as the increase in betting exchange commissions tax from 15% to 25% – will go ahead as scheduled. The Ministry has promised to consider revising the tax in the nation’s 2020 budget depending the results of the review, which will reportedly be delivered sometime in Q1 2019.
The Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) has warned that the increased turnover tax will lead to the closure of hundreds of local betting shops, particularly those run by independent operators. The IBA has lobbied the government to consider an alternate scheme in which retail bookies would pay 10% tax on betting revenue, with online bookies paying 20%.
In addition to heightened taxes, bookmakers now face additional regulatory scrutiny after the government approved statutory instruments to include gambling operators within the scope of the country’s anti-money laundering (AML) legislation.
Gambling service providers are now considered ‘designated persons’ under the revised AML rules, joining banks and other financial institutions. Gambling operators are now required to report all suspicious transactions and transactions involving sums over €2k are subject to customer due diligence requirements.
The new rules don’t apply to lotteries, bingo halls, gaming and amusement machine operators or land-based poker games, all of which were deemed to be ‘low risk’ categories.
The new requirements haven’t dampened the market’s appeal for online gambling platform provider Aspire Global, who announced the awarding of an Irish sports betting license on Wednesday. Aspire Global CEO Tsachi Maimon expressed excitement at bringing the company’s total number of gambling licenses to seven, assuming there are any customers left to serve.