PADDY Power is open to paying tax on internet betting by its Irish customers if it is levied on all bookmakers taking bets online in Ireland, its chief executive Patrick Kennedy has told the Sunday Tribune.
His comments came following remarks by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) executives that the sport needed to become self financing. HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said earlier this month that racing could generate extra income by taxing online and telephone betting to avoid the state subsidising racing.
Kennedy said raising the rate of tax will not fix the funding gap. He said only 15% of bets in its shops and 11% of online bets were on Irish racing. He estimated that only €6m a year could be raised from taxing bets on Irish racing and said no countries fund racing by taxing other sports.
The company would be prepared to pay tax on all online betting, but any change must be applied to its competitors and not just those based here.
Sports minister Martin Cullen said last week that the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Finance are studying ways to tax offshore bookmakers.
The government last year abandoned plans to double betting tax to 2% because of fears that while larger bookmakers would absorb the tax, smaller chains would have to pass it on and could go out of business.
"The other side of the matter is how we will find a mechanism of taxing companies which are largely located offshore. That is the problem, namely, that they do not come within the Irish taxation system. It is hard to tax a company in another jurisdiction," Cullen said.