Racing: Green tax to lure punters

THE THREE certainties of most punters' lives have always been death, tax and never being on the right side of an amended result. In less than six months' time, however, British backers will at last be able to do something about two of them. The Grim Reaper will still get us all in the end, but addled stewards and the tax man will suddenly become manageable problems, which will surely make 1999 the best year for punters since off-course betting was legalised almost 40 years ago.

The reason is simple. On 1 July, the rate of betting tax in the Republic of Ireland will be reduced from 10 per cent to five per cent, almost half the level of deductions required in Britain. Any British backer with a credit card will be able to ring an Irish bookmaker, open an account and bet immediately on racing in both Britain and Ireland, saving themselves four per cent of every stake. Someone who bets just pounds 10 a day will save almost pounds 150 over the course of a year, which is enough to keep them betting for another fortnight.

Although bookmakers in Britain are trying to appear as calm as possible, they know that the effect on their business could be dramatic. They know too that anyone tempted to send their money across the Irish Sea will unearth another well-kept secret, that punters in Ireland receive a far better service than their counterparts in this country. Competition is fierce, and offers which are an occasional treat in Britain are taken for granted by the Irish.

The most important of these is the double-result concession, which guarantees payment on both "winners" if a horse is disqualified by the stewards. Statistically speaking, amended results are rare, but a loss in the stewards' room etches its way into the memory like no other. The knowledge that the officials cannot touch your winnings is immensely reassuring.

Irish bookies also tend to offer excellent each-way terms, and morning- line prices on many more races than their British competitors. What is more, they tend to lay them as well, instead of running for shelter whenever their odds are fractionally out of line with the rest of the market.

In short, if a betting war breaks out this summer, Ladbrokes, Hills and company will be fighting with knitting needles while their opponents wield tactical nuclear weapons. The Irish layers are preparing for a huge marketing push, led by Paddy Power, their biggest domestic bookie, and its managing director, Stewart Kenny.

"This will be a huge bonus for our business and for international betting," Kenny said yesterday. "The British tax rate on betting is very high now by international standards. The last time the tax was reduced in Ireland was in 1985, when it came down from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, which put us in line with Britain, and in the next year, turnover rose by 44 per cent. This time there will be much more scope to compete in Britain, and not only will people get this very favourable tax rate, they will also be betting on terms which are a lot more advantageous."

The worry for British racing's administrators, of course, is that any betting turnover which finds its way to Ireland will reduce the yield of the Levy, which largely funds the sport in this country. When the Irish tax cut was announced a couple of months ago, one leading racehorse owner even went so far as to suggest that British punters should be legally prevented from taking advantage.

It was a bizarre and unworkable proposal, not to mention an example of gross hypocrisy, given that owners themselves currently enjoy significant tax concessions on their bloodstock purchases. It showed, though, that the implications of the new Irish tax regime have already started to sink in. The uncomplaining, put-upon punters who have funded British racing for almost half a century will suddenly have a choice. They may well prove to be not nearly as daft or predictable as many assume.

If nothing else, the major bookmakers in this country may have to match some of their rivals' offers, while in the medium term, a cut in our own rate of betting duty may be inevitable. There is also the imminent possibility of reliable internet betting with no tax at all. Punters are optimists almost by definition, but just for once, there is rather more to look forward to than tomorrow's racecards.

Lingfield will hold a 7.30am precautionary inspection to determine prospects for today's turf meeting. A heavy thunderstorm brought 7mm of rain to the track yesterday evening.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine