July 14, 2023
Ireland's Minister for Sport, Catherine Martine, has stated that she would support a 3% rise in the country's controversial betting levy. However, she said during a public debate that the extra money must fund domestic sports initiatives.
The Labour Party is the original sponsor of the tax proposal, with Teachta Dála (TD) Aodhán Rordáin overseeing several public meetings on the subject. The additional revenue would expressly fund domestic facilities, primarily equipment for football clubs. In addition, the Labour Party is urging the government to increase funding for national and local football teams.
During the debate, the minister said:
“But I would of course support any measures such as an increase in the betting levy, which could in turn feed to increase funding for sport more generally.”
Back in June, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) defended the additional betting tax funding. Through its CEO (Jonathan Hill) and Chair (Roy Barrett), the pair defended the €863 million plan, saying it's a great example of the government providing a stimulus to the sport.
FAI insists that 60% of the sports betting levy (€517 million or $569 million) must come directly from the government. Local governments in Ireland will provide an additional 20% of the funds, leaving the association to foot the remaining 20%.
The motion also demands funds for addressing gender equality issues. The levy's proponents insist clubs will face severe budget reductions if they don't attain gender parity on their boards.
Chris Andrews, Sinn Féin TD, commented:
"Clubs need large savings to pay for projects upfront before they can draw down the grant. Others simply may not ever be able to draw down the particular grant as they don't have the savings upfront. Equally, a large number of football clubs and other sports clubs generally don't have their own grounds so can't apply for a sports grant. Seventy-three per cent of Dublin's football clubs don't have their own facilities.”
The association is convinced that regulated sports betting sites in the country would not hinder the proposed revenue increase because it puts pressure on their businesses. Barrett said there has always been a "constant refrain" whenever a proposal to change the betting levy comes up.
In December 2022, the government published the Gambling Regulation Bill, paving the way for significant gambling reforms in Ireland since becoming a sovereign state. The bill introduces many changes, including forming the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA).
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