Sport & betting has been the subject of much commentary in recent times. In the main it has been protecting the integrity of sport from the potential threat of gambling as well as betting tax as a potential revenue stream for sports funding that have been the subject of the most intention. The regulation of gambling to include, recent developments in the gambling industry as well as the introduction of certain measures to protect vulnerable adults and young people that are the main focus of the proposed Gambling Control Bill, the General Scheme of which was published by Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence, Alan Shatter TD in July 2013. Read below for potential impact on sport.
The Gambling Control Bill with its dual focus as outlined above will repeal and replace all existing arrangements for the regulation of betting, gaming, bingo and lotteries (except for the National Lottery). It will extend the licensing regime to include on-line and electronic gambling and will also establish arrangements for the licensing and supervision of casinos.
Lotteries are frequently used by sports clubs as a means of fundraising. In this regard it is interesting to note that Head 19 outlines specific licensing provisions where a lottery is linked to a charitable clause including, a non-profit sports or recreational club, facility, organisation or enterprise.
Head 74 outlines particular provisions to apply to sponsorship by gambling licence holders which, in particular provides that any events sponsored by licence holders must directed primarily at an audience that is over 18 years of age whilst, all advertising of such sponsorships will need to be in compliance with rules to be developed by the proposed regulatory body to be established in accordance with the legislation.
The Bill also envisages, in Part 7, the establishment of a Social Fund to be funded by the licence holders. The purpose of the fund is to be two fold namely, to promote social responsible gambling and to assist in counter-acting the ill-effects, for society, as well as for persons and their families, of irresponsible gambling. The Fund will be overseen by the regulatory authority to be established by the legislation and will have the ability to partake with other persons in programmes that are consistent with its purposes and that promote its objectives.
As far as “betting tax” and its proceeds are concerned this is to remain the prerogative of the Department of Finance. In this regard, Minister Noonan recently reminded the Dáil that changes to betting tax to include on-line betting and betting exchanges which, to date have been outside the tax net, were provided for in the Finance Act, 2011. These measures however, he said, cannot be introduced until such time as the Betting (Amendment) Bill is enacted.
The Betting (Amendment) Bill was first published in July 2012 but both his officials and those from Revenue are currently drawing up amendments to the Bill to strengthen its enforcement measures. Minister Noonan confirmed that he hopes to return to Government in the near future to republish the Bill although, he pointed out that EU Law requires him to show the Bill to the EU Commission and other Member States resulting in a minimum of 3 months for clearance. He confirmed that he would also be examining his options regarding the taxing of online casino and poker formats once the Gambling Control Bill is enacted.
The Betting Tax is currently used to part fund the Horse & Greyhound Racing Fund (the “Fund”). There has been considerable pressure from the Horse & Greyhound Industry to bring on-line betting into the tax net as a means of boosting the amount available to the Fund from betting tax proceeds.
Betting however is no longer exclusively related to horse and greyhound racing. Recent commentary from would indicate that whilst horse & greyhound racing remains the principle staple in betting shops, other sports principally football make up an estimated 70% of bets placed on line. These changes should be reflected in future discussions around the use of the betting tax proceeds and in particular, whether a fair proportion should be used to provide funding for other sports particularly, at a time when funding for sport is in such short supply.