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Gambling taxes, laws and barriers in Ireland

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Taxes

Betting services are not subject to VAT, bookmakers do not need to register nor can they claim VAT paid.

The applicable rate of tax for betting has now been reduced to 2% of turnover on «away events» and off-course betting. The on-course tax rate is 0%. Bookmakers are permitted to absorb and pay the betting tax rather than charge it to the customer.

A bookmaker pays an annual licence fee of €250.

An annual Standing Charge of €500 plus 0.5% of the betting turnover is payable to Horse Racing Ireland. Bookmakers pay a pitch fee to individual racecourses or greyhound tracks based on the price charged to the general public for admission.

Excise duty on registration or renewal of registration of bookmaking premises is €380.

Reinstatement of a licence after de-registration is subject to a fee of €2000.

Gaming licence fees are €175 for a «three month» licence and €630 for an «annual» licence.

Gaming machine licence fees are €145 for up to three months and €505 for an annual licence.

Minister for Finance, Mr. Brian Cowen TD, has recently established a working group to examine betting taxes and, in particular, to consider an overhaul of the current system of betting taxation. As part of its work, the Betting Tax Group has sought the input of members of the industry and other interested parties on this matter. The deadline for such submissions was 5pm, Thursday, July 28, 2005. We might, therefore, expect to see some concrete government response concerning this question in the near future.

LISTING

LEGISLATION ENACTED

Federal

General

– See specific entries, infra.

Lotteries

– Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956
– S.I. No. 18/1956: Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956 (Commencement) Order), 1956
– S.I. No. 9/1962: District Court (Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956) Rules, 1962
– Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1970
– Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1979
– S.I. No. 1/1985: District Court (Gaming and Lotteries) Rules, 1984.
– National Lottery Act 1986
– Lottery Prizes Regulations 1987

Casino Gaming

– Casinos are not authorised in Ireland (According to the Gaming & Leisure Association of Ireland, approximately 20 casio-style clubs do however operate in Ireland on the basis of a self-regulatory regime.)

Betting

– Betting Act 1931
– Betting, Gaming and Lotteries: The Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Act 2004 (Commencement N° 1) Order 2004 N° 3283 (C. 149)
– The Greyhound Industry Act (1958 N° 12)
– Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 (Appointed Day for Purposes of Chapter I of Part V) Order 1958
– Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 (Commencement of Section 26) Order 1958
– Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 (Commencement of Sections 32, 33, 34 and 35) Order 1958
– Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 (Establishment Day) Order 1958
– Greyhound Industry (Amendment) Act, 1993
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) Regulations 1964
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) Regulations 1967
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) Regulations 1970
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) Regulations 1974
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) Regulations 1975
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) Regulations 1977
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) (Amendment) Regulations 1977
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) Regulations 1979
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) Regulations 1980
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) (Amendment) Regulations 1980
– Greyhound Race Track (Admission Charges) (Revocation) Regulations 1982
– Greyhound Race Track (Bookmakers Admission Charges) Regulations 1981
– Greyhound Race Track (Bookmakers Admission Charges) Regulations 1982
– Greyhound Race Track (Bookmakers Admission Charges) (Revocation) Regulations, 1984
– Greyhound Race Track (Levy Collection) Regulations 1958
– Greyhound Race Track (Levy Collection) (Amendment) Regulations 1964
– Greyhound Race Track (Levy) (Percentage) Regulations 1964
– Greyhound Race Track (Levy Collection) Regulations 1968
– Greyhound Race Track (Levy Collection) (Amendment) Regulations 1971
– Greyhound Race Track (Levy Collection) (Percentage) Regulations 1977
– Greyhound Race Track (Levy Collection) (Percentage) Regulations 1980
– Greyhound Race Track (Levy Collection) (Percentage) Regulations 1985
– Greyhound Race Track (Levy Collection) (Percentage) (Amendment) Regulations 1990
– Greyhound Race Track (Permits for Persons Performing Specified Functions) Regulations 1970
– Greyhound Race Track (Race Card Charges) Regulations 1972
– Greyhound Race Track (Race Card Charges) Regulations 1977
– Greyhound Race Track (Race Card Charges) Regulations 1980
– Greyhound Race Track (Race Card Charges)(Amendment) Regulations 1980
– Greyhound Race Track (Race Card Charges) (Revocation) Regulations 1982
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1963
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1965
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1968
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1977
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1980
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1982
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1989
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations (Amendment) 1989
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations, 1993
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1996
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations S.I. No. 39/2001
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1960
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1967
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) Regulations S.I. No. 158/1993
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Special Exemption) Regulations 1963
– Greyhound Race Track (Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 2002
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Operating) Amendment Regulations S.I. No. 3/2001
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Operating) Amendment Regulations 1963
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Operating) Amendment Regulations, S.I. No. 47/1971.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Operating) Amendment Regulations, S.I. No. 227/1984.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Operating) Amendment Regulations S.I. No. 8/1991.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Operating) Amendment Regulations, S.I. No. 330/1996.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Operating) Amendment Regulations S.I. No. 3/2001.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Operating) Amendment Regulations S.I. No. 425/2001.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Operating) Amendement Regulations S.I. No. 155/2002.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Percentage) Regulations 1960
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Percentage) Regulations 1964
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Percentage) Regulations 1971
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Percentage) Regulations S.I. No. 90/1977.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Percentage) Regulations, S.I. No. 192/1983.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Percentage) Regulations, S.I. No. 24/1984.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Percentage) Regulations, S.I. No. 188/1991.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Percentage) Regulations 1991
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Quinella Treble Forecast) Regulations 1964
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Percentage) Regulations 1960
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Percentage) Regulations 1969
– S.I. No. 135/1982: Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Trio) Regulations, 1982
– S.I. No. 139/1997: Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) Super (Dual) Trio Jackpot Regulations 1997
– S.I. No. 111/1996: Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Super) (Trio) Jackpot Regulations 1996.
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Super) (Trio) Jackpot Regulations 1996
– S.I. No. 223/1997: Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Super) (Trio) Jackpot Amendment Regulations, 1997
– Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator)(Superfecta) Regulations, S.I. No. 663/2003.
– Greyhound Trainers’ (Amendment) Regulations 1969
– Greyhound Trainers’ (Amendment) Regulations 1980
– Greyhound Trainers’ (Amendment) Regulations 1989
– Greyhound Trainers’ Regulations S.I. No. 58/1961.
– Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001 Number 20 of 2001
– Horse & Greyhound Racing (Betting Charges & Levies) Act (1999 N° 24)
– Horse & Greyhound Racing (Betting Charges & Levies) Act, 1999 (Commencement) Order, S.I. No. 211/1999.
– S.I. No. 185/2002: Horse and Greyhound Racing Act 2001 (Section 8) (Commencement) Order 2002
– Horseracing (On-Course Betting Office) Regulations 1995
– Irish Horseracing Industry Act 1994 (1994 N° 18)
– Public Sales of Greyhounds Regulations S.I. No. 76/1966.
– Racecourses (Payment of Levies on Course Bets) Regulations 1995
– Racecourse (Levy Collection) (Amendment) Regulations 1986
– Racecourse (Levy Collection) (Amendment) Regulations 1989
– Racecourse (Levy Collection) (Amendment) Regulations 1994
– Racecourse (Levy Collection) Regulations 1977
– Racecourse (Levy) (Percentage) Regulations 1964
– Racecourse (Levy) (Percentage) Regulations 1975
– Racecourse (Levy) (Percentage) Regulations 1980
– Racecourse (Levy) (Percentage) Regulations 1985
– Racing Board and Racecourses Act 1945 (Appointment of Transfer Date) Order 1945
– Racing Board and Racecourses Act, 1945 (Appointment of Establishment Date) Order 1945
– Racing Board and Racecourses Act, 1945 (Commencement of Chapters II and III of Part III) Order 1945
– Racing Board and Racecourses (Amendment) Act (Commencement of Sections 4 and 5) Order 1975
– Racing Board and Racecourses (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order 1980
– Reduction in the rate of Betting Duty and Consolidation & Modernisation of Betting Duty Law
– Totalisator (Amendment) Regulations 1938
– Totalisator (Horse Racing) (Amendment) Regulations 1981.
– Totalisator Act, (1929, N° 22)
– Totalisator Act,, 1929 Totalisator Licence S.I. No. 250/1989.
– Totalisator Act,, 1929 Totalisator Licence S.I. No. 25/1993.
– Totalisator Act,, 1929 Totalisator Licence S.I. No. 21/1994.
– Totalisator Act,, 1929 Totalisator Licence S.I. No. 411/1998.
– Totalisator (Amendment) Regulations 1956
– Totalisator (Amendment) Regulations 1967
– Totalisator (Amendment) Regulations 1968
– Totalisator (Double Event) Regulations 1930
– Totalisator (Double Event) Regulations 1935
– Totalisator (Amendment) (Greyhound Race Track) Regulations, S.I. No. 232/1989.
– Totalisator (Horse Racing) Regulations, S.I. No. 93/1989.
– Totalisator (Horse Racing) (Extended Forecast) Regulations S.I. No. 275/1984.
– Totalisator (Multiple Event) (Amendment) Regulations 1966
– Totalisator (Multiple Event) Regulations 1966
– Totalisator Regulations 1944

Bingo

– Betting, Gaming and Lotteries: The Gaming (Bingo) Act (Fees)(Amendment) Order 2002 N° 640
– Regulations entitled Betting Duty Regulations 2002, S.I. N° 174 of 2002

Sales Promotional Gambling

– Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1956 §22
– Prize Bonds Regulations, S.I. No. 337/1993
– Prize Bonds (Amendment) Regulations, S.I. No. 431/1997

Charity Gambling

– Gaming and Lotteries Acts, 1956-79 [see lotteries]

BARRIERS

Panorama

General

Our research has revealed that, some time between 1994 and 1999, the European Commission took action against Ireland on the grounds that certain sections of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 were incompatible with articles 59 and 66. The Commission issued a reasoned opinion under Art. 169 (Infringement 1994/4719.) to which Ireland responded. A Freedom of Information Act suit was filed to obtain copies of Ireland’s response (Case 000257 – Mr X and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.) which apparently granted the petitioner access to the information requested on public interest grounds. We have not yet succeeded in obtaining copies of either the Commission’s reasoned opinion or the Irish government’s response.

Lotteries

In Ireland, lotteries are generally prohibited except where specifically authorised. A monopolistic national lottery as well as certain types of lesser lotteries is so authorised.Under the Gaming & Lotteries Act, 1956, four kinds of lotteries are permitted:
– «private lotteries» organised by societies and clubs for their members
– «occasional lotteries» held under permits granted by An Garda Síochána (the Irish Police)
– «periodical lotteries» held under District Court licences (Periodical Lotteries Regulation, 1961 and
– «lotteries held at certain functions»

The National Lottery Act, 1986 provides for a national lottery to be held by, or on behalf of, the Minister for Finance and, in its Section 32, specifically exempts this lottery from the provisions of the Gaming & Lotteries Acts 1956 to 1979. It is the Minister of Finance who authorises a person, and grants such person a licence, to operate the national lottery. The Minister of Finance also determines the duration, terms and conditions of such licence and may revoke the licence for reasons that appear to him to be sufficient. The first such licence was granted to An Post, Ireland’s national postal service, which created An Post National Lottery Company to operate the lottery.

The National Lottery is regulated by the Department of Finance which has oversight powers. Only authorised outlets may sell lottery tickets, pursuant to a contract with the National Lottery Company, and the total number of such outlets is determined by the operators of the National Lottery.

The operator of the National Lottery also determines the form and value of prizes to be distributed. Net proceeds of the National Lottery are applied to sport and other recreation, national culture (including the Irish language) the arts, community health and other
purposes that the government may determine from time to time.

Casino Gaming

Casinos are not authorised under Irish Law. Nonetheless, Ireland has seen significant growth (The Gaming & Leisure Association of Ireland, in a letter to the ISDC of May 19, 2006, claims that there are approximately 20 such clubs currently in operation in the Republic of Ireland.) in recent years in the area of private clubs offering casino-like services. The legal status of the activities of these clubs appears to be unclear. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has expressed concern that these casino operations could be used for money laundering activities and intends to introduce measures in the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2005 concerning enforcement in connection with private casinos. («I have concerns about the enforceability of the present law as it applies to these types of operations and the scope for their use for money-laundering,» said Minister McDowell. «I am preparing proposals for changes in the law that will facilitate the prosecution of offences and the closing down of establishments engaged in such operations. It is my intention to seek Government approval within the next few weeks for these changes to be included in this Bill by way of Committee Stage amendments.» See press release of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform of April 21, 2006)

Machine Gambling Outside Casinos

Under section III of the Gaming & Lotteries Act, 1956, as amended, in 1970 and 1979, no person shall promote or assist in promoting or provide facilities for any kind of gaming (defined as playing a game, whether of skill or chance or a combination of the two, for stakes placed by players):
– in which, by reason of the nature of the game, the chances of all the players, including the banker, are not equal, or
– in which any portion of the stakes is retained by a promoter or is retained by the banker except as winnings on the result of the play, or
– by means of any slot machines except pursuant to a valid licence.

Gaming in arcades, amusement halls, carnivals and funfairs is permitted only on premises licensed by the Revenue Commissioners for this purpose in accordance with conditions laid down in the Gaming and Lotteries Acts. A certificate of fitness is required from the District Court in order to apply to the Revenue Commissioners for the licence.

Betting

Horse Racing

Horse Racing Ireland, a commercial semi-state body, is responsible for directing and promoting all aspects of racing in Ireland including directing, funding and promoting the thoroughbred horse, the operation of the Registry Office, the Tote and its racecourse division, representation of Irish horseracing internationally and the negotiation of income from the media and broadcasting rights. Horse Racing Ireland was established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001 and takes over the functions carried out previously by the Irish Horseracing Authority (IHA) since 1994. The IHA, in turn, replaced the Racing Board that was established in 1945. It is funded by a direct grant from the Government, profits from the Tote and funding from on-course and off-course bookmakers.

Racecourse bookmakers must be in possession of a Bookmaker’s Licence from the State and a Permit from Horse Racing Ireland. Obtaining a licence requires obtaining a Tax Clearance from the Revenue Commission and a Certificate of Personal Fitness from the Garda (national police). Persons not residing in the Republic of Ireland may obtain such a certificate from the Department of Justice however an application for such a certificate requires endorsement from three persons resident in the State. Applications for a Permit require monthly statements from a bank, building society of financial institution for the two years immediately prior to the application as well as a personal interview by the officers of Horse Racing Ireland.

Greyhound Racing

The Irish Greyhound Board – Bord na gCon – a commercial semi-state body – is responsible for the control and development of the greyhound industry in Ireland. The Board was established under the Greyhound Industry Act (1958) which gave the Board wide powers to regulate all aspects of greyhound racing in Ireland including the licensing of the different tracks, the issuing of permits to officials, bookmakers, trainers and the implementation of the rules of racing. The Irish Greyhound Board has licensed a total of seventeen tracks in the republic, of which nine are owned and controlled by the Board. The remainder are owned and operated by private enterprise.

Sales Promotional Gambling

Sales Promotion Schemes, Generally

Section 2 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956 provides that a «’lottery’ includes all competitions for money or money’s worth involving guesses or estimates of future events or of past events the results of which are not yet ascertained or not yet generally known.»

The threshold issue here, then, is whether the sales promotion in question falls within the definition of a lottery for the purposes of that Act, in which case the licensing requirements of those Acts will apply thereby rendering the promotion illegal in the absence of compliance with those requirements. It would appear that any promotional scheme in which something of value is awarded in connection with a game of chance where some contribution must be made in return for obtaining a chance to participate will qualify as a lottery under the Act.

A line of cases has established some parameters in this field. The first such case, Bolger v. Doherty, held that the game of bingo fell within the definition of a lottery. In Attorney General v. Best’s Stores a promotional scheme pursuant to which clients having purchased at least £1 worth of merchandise could put their receipts into a box a be eligible to win a turkey if their receipt were drawn out was deemed to be a lottery, subject to the licensing requirements. An attempt to remove this type of promotional scheme from the definition of lottery by adding an element of skill was unsuccessful. The defendant in Attorney General v.

Healy imposed on the participant selected the requirement of answering a specific question in order to qualify for the prize. The High Court held that the opportunity of winning a money prize by answering the question was something of value which was awarded through a game of chance.

One court has even gone so far as to hold that if «the overwhelming majority of persons interesting themselves in the scheme» would have made a purchase and the purpose of the scheme was to encourage such purchases, the scheme will be deemed to be a lottery even in the absence of a purchase requirement.

Prize Bonds

Irish law authorizes the Minister of Finance to issue non-interest-bearing securities, called «Prize Bonds» which entitle the holder to participate in periodic random drawings for prizes. Prize Bonds are exempt from the provisions of the Gaming and Lotteries Acts and from stamp duty.

Charity Gambling

Charitable lotteries are permitted but must be licensed. An applicant for such a licence must give 28 days’ notice to the Superintendent of the Irish police for the district in which the lottery is to be organised, which notice must include the kind of lottery, the purpose of the lottery, the amount or proportion of the proceeds intended to be devoted to the remuneration of agents ticket-sellers and other persons employed as well as the value of prizes. The licence is granted by the District Court who may consider the character of the applicant.

© European Union

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