Ireland’s New Online Gambling Levy Set for August Rollout

Government officials in Ireland have confirmed passage of the Gambling Act 2015, which among other changes addressing online gambling will introduce licensure for online sites serving Irish punters, plus a 15% net-revenue levy on online sports betting operations.  The 15% net tax is the equivalent of the rate charged by Ireland’s land-based sports betting shops and kiosks.

ireland-flagThe implementation of the Gambling Act 2015 culminates a three-year battle led by Ireland’s finance minister, Michael Noonan, to implement regulatory licensing and appropriate (to the government) taxation for online betting services.  Noonan reported early last month that the Gambling Act had been approved by both houses of Ireland’s Oireachtas and moved on to the desk of Irish president Michael D. Higgins for signing.

Higgins, in turn, signed the Act (a series of amendments to Ireland’s existing Gambling Act) on March 15th.  Noonan expects that the changes called for in this year’s series of amendments will be implemented by August of 2015.

In confirming the amendments’ successful passage last month, Noonan stated:

“I welcome the cross party support for the Bill in both Houses of the Oireachtas and would like to thank members for their positive contributions throughout the debates. The Betting Amendment Bill is just a first step in providing for a well regulated betting and gambling regime. This Bill will allow for the regulation of those providing betting services by remote means to persons within the jurisdiction for the first time. This is a major step in the right direction. The implementation of the regulatory regime for remote operators will also allow for the extension of betting duty to these companies.”

Regarding the August “live date” for the new amendments, allowing time for a licensing regime to be put into place and for applications to be submitted and approved, Noonan wrote:

“Preparations are now being put in place to commence the licensing provisions of the Bill. A period of time is required to allow remote operators to apply for and be granted a licence to provide betting services in the jurisdiction before the commencement of the tax provisions already provided for in the Finance Act 2011 and the collection of betting duties from the remote sector.”

Among the following provisions of Ireland’s new Gambling (Betting) Act 2015:

  • A 1% tax on Ireland-facing online casino, gaming and bingo services.  The tax is to be assessed against gross gaming revenue (GGR);
  • A 15% tax rate (on net revenue, not GGR), assessed against Ireland-facing online sports betting services.  As several outlets have noted, this is the same rate as levied under the United Kingdom’s new gambling amendments, which are still being challenged legally by several major, Gibraltar-based online operators;
  • A new licensing regime for all online operators serving Irish customers.  The new licenses cost €10,000 each and are renewable every two years;
  • Significant fines for online operators who continue to serve Irish punters without proper licensing, of up to €300,000.

Ireland hopes to recover as much as €25 million annual in tax revenue that finance minister Noonan believes is “lost” via activity being driven through online sites, which until now were not subject to taxation.  Though several of Ireland’s most prominent betting companies, such as Paddy Power, are already located in Ireland, it remains to be seen whether companies who accept Irish bettors’ business but are located in offshore jurisdiction mount any sort of legal challenge to the Gambling Act 2015, now that it has gone into effect.

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