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Online Casino News - April, 2009

Ireland Minister Threatens to Ban Online Betting


  Seed Newsvine

by Margaret Oliveira, News Staff Writer

April 6, 2009

Whether you're a fan of animal racing or not, the fact of the matter is that it's a popular betting activity the world over. Especially in Europe, dog and horseracing are enjoyed by many. So much so, in fact, animal racing is a major economic contributor in Europe.

Nowhere is this more plain to see right now than in Ireland, where legislators are actually proposing to ban online gambling in order to keep the animal racing industry afloat. In similar fashion to how the U.S. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) included carveouts for the horseracing industry, lotteries and fantasy football, certain lawmakers in Ireland are hoping to draw up some protectionist legislation of their own.

At the source of such talk is Minister Martin Cullen, who was recently on record stating that in order to persuade online gambling operators to accept a tax for funding animal racing, the government should consider wielding the prospects of an online gambling ban. It's blackmailing at it's finest - and quite understandably - the online betting operators taking the lions share of gaming business in Ireland, are not very pleased.

One such operator is the world famous Paddy Power, who not only operates an online sportsbook and handicapping service, but also takes bets at online casino games, poker, lottery and bingo. Replying to Minister Cullen's comments, Paddy Power released a statement questioning what has happened to the $1 billion already given to the local racetracks operating in Ireland.

Apparently, they already know the answer to this question, which is precisely why they brought it up. According to the Independent of Ireland, there are just eight owners, most of whom reside overseas to avoid paying taxes in Ireland, who personally bank over a third of the money that comes from Ireland's animal racing industry. And while Paddy Power and other operators are taking in billions themselves from online gambling, their discontent would probably be appeased somewhat if these land-based owners were paying their fare share in taxes.

The bottom line is that Minister Cullen means business. With the Irish government spending over $100 million to keep the animal racing industry in business, and prospects to end all future funding, a subsidy will have to come from somewhere. And right now, Cullen thinks its the online gambling sector that is sucking the most from the industry, and consequently, should pay up.



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