In what has been described as the “final nail in the coffin” for smaller Irish bookmakers, the government has agreed to increase the tax on sports betting from 1% to 2% from 2019 onwards. The rise applies to retail, online and telephone sportsbooks, while  betting exchange commissions from Irish customers jumped from 15% to 25%.

The repercussions for the affiliate industry remain to be seen, but less revenue available to affiliates means everyone’s margins are squeezed.

“This is the final nail in the coffin for most if not all the smaller independent retail betting operators in Ireland and is a continuation of attacks on the betting sector from government, media and the public,” said Thomas McBride, Owner of McBride Racing.

“The expected tax windfall will fail to materialise when you consider the loss of jobs, media rights fees, corporate tax returns etc. The betting industry continues to be an easy target by those that oppose gambling but understand little about it. This will drive betting into the black market.”

Sharon Byrne of the Irish Bookmakers Association was similarly pessimistic, arguing that betting shops would be “devastated” and pointing out that the industry has lost 450 retail stores in the past eight years.

“We are estimating another 300 shop closures,” she continued. “We are down to around 850 shops across the country and with the new closures there will be many households, family businesses and people who gave their whole lives to their shops now out of a job.”