Posts Tagged ‘horserace betting’

Ireland to Double the Tax Rate on Internet Betting Operators?

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Seemingly following in the footsteps of Great Britain, lawmakers in Ireland are apparently considering reaping more revenue from online gambling activity. And just like the UK, Ireland could be setting itself up for a loss in business if said “reaping” is too much for online betting operators.

As reported by the Irish Examiner, Ireland’s Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan is considering doubling the current tax rate on remote gaming revenue with a 2% tax on all wagers made through Ireland-based and regulated betting sites. Of course, the operative word here is “speculation”. But considering the history of online gambling regulation, if Ireland does indeed impose a 2% winnings tax, it certainly wouldn’t be a big shocker.

When you have the likes of Paddy Power and the Irish Bookmakers’ Association (IBA) voicing concern about such a tax, the reality is that there is indeed some truth behind the speculative claims that Minister Lenihan is, himself, seriously considering the tax spike. IBA’s chairwoman, Sharon Byrne, commented, “We believe that 400 of the 1,200 would shut up overnight. It would kill jobs in the industry”, while a Paddy Power spokesperson said that passing the tax would be “insane”.

Not surprisingly, all of the betting sites and online bookmakers operating out of Ireland, highly oppose the tax. The one exception could possibly be land-based horse racing and dog tracks, which the Irish government has apparently shorted some 30 million Euro’s in government funding.

The idea behind imposing such a spike is that it could generate 60 billion Euro’s in tax revenue per year. Therefore, it would seem the online betting industry would be the most conducive place to turn to for generating some badly needed funds. The gamble, however, is that by increasing the tax rate, many operators will either leave Ireland to do business elsewhere, or simply shut their doors for good. It has been estimated that some 33% of operators will have no choice but the latter.

New York Horseracing Industry, NYRA, Awarded $25 Million Loan to Keep Afloat

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Another Packed House at New York's Aqueduct Horse Racing Track

Another Packed House at New York's Aqueduct Horse Racing Track

As low an approval rating as New York Governor David Patterson has, at least he has the support of the New York Racing Association, which is pretty happy right now. Well, I’d be pretty happy too if somebody gave me a $25 million loan. That’s right folks. Just when you thought the antiquated horseracing industry was about to die off like it rightfully should, the State of New York has stepped in to give the UIGEA another opportunity to engage one of its carveouts.

In case you are wondering how that might work, the UIGEA permits online horserace betting through State-licensed operators. It is one of the three niche carveouts referred to in the UIGEA as not being an “illegal form of online gambling”, although the UIGEA doesn’t go on to define what those illegal forms even are. Go chew on that. One would think that in order for the New York horseracing industry to stay afloat this time around, it will need to start asserting itself in the highly competitive online marketplace. The only thing is that the NYRA has been doing that for several years! Obviously, it’s not working. Can you say “SNAFU”?

Personally, I am ever so interested to hear what excuse the NYRA has this time around. Before the UIGEA, they were crying bloody murder against online casinos, sportsbooks and poker rooms, saying the New York horserace industry was losing business to illegal online gambling websites. Next, they are going to say it’s all because of the internet. Heck, they might even blame it on Starbucks, citing all the caffeine addicted Wifi users as potential bettors. But hold on just a second. They can bet online while drinking their latte in Starbucks, remember?

Apparently, even with protectionist legislation in its favor to thrive online, the New York horseracing industry can’t help but go downhill. Face it Governor Patterson – it’s a dying industry. Have you been to the racetracks, Governor? Yes, you probably have. You wouldn’t know it, but that’s because you are part of the dying generation that is trying to sustain a dying industry. Those two don’t go hand-in-hand. The truth of the matter is that the NYRA has not even said how they will go about keeping the State’s three largest horseracing tracks (Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct) from feigning another shutdown, let alone how they intend to pay back $25 million in tax payer dollars.

At this stage, the only semblance of hope for the New York horseracing industry is the installation of new video lottery terminals, which has apparently been dragging on since 2001(no operator has been named to run the terminals. Big surprise, eh?). In fact, it was the delay of these video terminal installations that prompted Governor Patterson’s office to draw up legislation covering the $25 loan. The State of New York was supposed to subsidize the NYRA if the terminals were not installed by April, 2009. Obviously, that hasn’t been happening. So let’s just give the NYRA a $25 million loan to buy some more time, shall we?

NYRA Chairman, Steven Drucker, certainly doesn’t mind. He had this to say in a recent press release: “The board of directors of the New York Racing Association Incorporated along with its management and dedicated employees are grateful for the State Legislature’s approval last evening of a $25 million loan, which guarantees world-class thoroughbred racing at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack…We appreciate the dedication and perseverance of Governor David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Conference Leader John Sampson, Senate Racing Committee Chairman Eric Adams and Assembly Racing And Wagering Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow and their respective staff members, which resulted in this legislation.”

Remember those names folks. Come reelection time, it will be very interesting digging through their campaign contributions.

Kentucky Supreme Court Wants Online Casino Domain Owners to Come Forward

Thursday, March 18th, 2010
stevebeshearkentuckyderby02

Online Gambling Hater Governor Steve Beshear Schmoozin' it up at Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, must have gambled online at an illegitimate online casino, and got taken for a chump’s worth, ’cause he certainly has some one-sided views on the online gambling industry as whole. I think back to the time when Beshear filed a civil suit, which successfully (don’t even ask me how) managed to seize some 141 online gambling domain names on the premise that they were corrupting the youth and stealing money from Kentucky citizens.

Ladies and Gentleman, the esteemed Governor Steven Beshear: “Unlicensed, unregulated, illegal Internet gambling poses a tremendous threat to the citizens of the Commonwealth because of its ease, availability and anonymity…The owners and operators of these illegal sites prey on Kentucky citizens, including our youth, and deprive the Commonwealth of millions of dollars in revenue.  It’s an underworld wrought with scams and schemes.”

stevebeshearkentuckyderby01I especially love when Beshear says “unlicensed, unregulated, illegal”. Uh ya Steve, that is why some people think it better to regulate. If we regulated, like they do across the pond, well then, you wouldn’t have online casinos corrupting your precious children and stealing money from your constituents – because, let’s face it – you do that already! Lets not even talk about your loyalty to the horse betting industry. What’s that you say? It’s much better for the kids to wager on wild animals pumped up with performance enhancing drugs? But of course it is.

Anyhow, before I go on (because believe me, I can), allow me to make a long story short and say that the Kentucky debacle is far from over. Following the aforementioned domain seizure, the online gambling industry – led by the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) – has been fighting to get the domain names back. Now waist deep in a court battle at the level of the Kentucky Supreme Court, iMEGA was told it had NO standing in representing the owners of the seized domain names, i.e., the online casino operators, and that these individuals must come forward in order for the appeal to go forward.

Personally (simply because it’s me writing this), I can see where the Supreme Court is coming from. And quite honestly, Governor Beshear isn’t totally incorrect in saying that there are some underworld folks doing business in the online gambling industry – thriving more so because of unregulated markets like the U.S. However, I can also see it a little unrealistic to bring in 100+ domain name owners into a courtroom for an appeal’s process. So, as much as I would like to see iMEGA win this one, unless more people step up in the name of “internet freedom”, Beshear is probably going to be laughing all the way to the Kentucky Derby.