"In sub-section (1) to insert after the word ‘bets,' line 30, the words ‘(with the exception hereinafter mentioned),' and to insert before sub-section (2) a new sub-section as follows:—
"Bets entered into on any racecourse in Saorstát Eireann in respect of any horse running thereat shall be exempted from duty prescribed by sub-section (1) of this section."
The amendment which I am proposing was put in by me after the Second Reading of the Finance Bill and was put in because it was apparent that the Minister was determined to insist on the principle of a 5 per cent. tax on all stakes invested. As I and the persons I speak for were aware that such tax would seriously injure a great industry I was reluctantly compelled to oppose the measure as introduced. In the interval certain conversations have taken place between the Minister, myself and Senator Parkinson, and the following alternative proposals have been submitted for the Minister's consideration. These are in connection with racecourse betting only:—(1) That at meetings where the totalisator or pari-mutuel is operated a five per cent. tax be charged—50 per cent. of the net receipts to be refunded to the race company for the purpose of increasing the stakes to be run for. (2) The proposed tax of five per cent. on all bets made with bookmakers on racecourses to be reduced to 2½ per cent. and half of the net revenue to be likewise refunded towards the increase of stakes.
With regard to the stipulation that half the money collected at racecourses must be given back for the improvement of stakes, that is a matter on which I cannot yield. I understand there are a certain limited number of persons who consider there should have been no question of compromise, and those are persons who obtain their living out of racing, and in the making of those remarks I do not allude to bookmakers generally, their alternative being to let the Government impose the five per cent. tax and then take steps to bring racing to an end. Those are not the persons whose interests I represent here. I represent the owners, trainers, breeders and the general public. The dissatisfied persons seem entirely to overlook the fact that it is the owners and breeders who provide them with their means of livelihood and that only for the owners there could be no racing. Those same owners and breeders have millions of pounds invested in the racing and breeding industry and they, I think it will be unanimously admitted, get the least out of it; they are the persons responsible for the money circulated which gives employment to countless thousands. Therefore, my claim for half the money extracted by the tax is legitimate. Increased stakes can then be given at the smaller meetings. Better class horses will be attracted to them and, thereby, larger attendances.
Before I conclude I wish to quote the announcement just made on behalf of the English Jockey Club on the subject, by Lord Lonsdale, who is a multi-millionaire and does not bet, so that his statement is, at least, unbiassed:
"The Stewards of the Jockey Club consider it is their duty to call your attention to the fact that, in their opinion, the provisions in their present form in the Finance Bill for creating the betting duty will have a very disastrous effect on racing, and, consequently, upon the breeding of the thoroughbred in this country.
In the opinion of the Stewards, the betting duty in its present form will injuriously affect the attendance on racecourses which would entail the amount that is received by the executive, thus entailing a reduction in the value of the prizes, with, as we have stated before, a disastrous effect upon the breeding of the thoroughbred.
That the business of the breeding of thoroughbreds is a very important one to this country, and a great asset will, we think, be admitted and for this reason anything that would be detrimental to it should, in our opinion, be avoided.
The Stewards feel that, as the body who control racing in this country, they would be failing in their duty, particularly to the executives of racecourses, to the owners and to the breeders of bloodstock, if they did not enter a serious protest against the tax in its present form."
I again regret that the acting stewards of the Irish Turf Club, as the custodians of the Irish racing interests, have, so far, made no public statement as to their opinions on this important subject.
The next matter I have to deal with is starting price betting. I am well aware that the same arguments cannot be put forward in connection with starting price betting as with betting at racecourses. My remarks, therefore, will be as to the effect of a 5 per cent. tax, as regards the revenue to be obtained and the effect of the opening of betting shops. The new legislation will have the effect of a substantial reduction in heavy betting, and a vast increase in small betting. Let there be no misunderstanding whatever about this. Legalised betting shops will be established all over the city and country and those betting shops will display price lists and every other device to attract persons to bet. Innumerable people who were not in the habit of betting before will be attracted and drop in to have their shilling or half-crown on. I predict that within 12 months you will have the people and the churches calling for the repealing of this Act. The imposition of a 5 per cent. tax on starting price betting will so much reduce the turn-over as to produce a much smaller revenue than a 2½ per cent. tax would bring in. And Mr. Churchill has now discovered his colossal mistake as to the probable yield, and is preparing to reduce substantially the original tax as mentioned in his Budget statement. Now, for instance, it will practically extinguish place betting, which would be about 40 per cent. of the amount of the sums invested, the reason being that backers receiving only one-fourth the odds to their money will invest only the money to win. And as heretofore the money invested for a place was an insurance for the sum invested to win, naturally the money invested to win will now be reduced.
I purpose giving a few figures and I am going to take as a basis £10 each way in order to show the effect of the tax in connection with place betting. Ten pounds each way invested on a horse starting at 6 to 4 on would yield, for a place, £1 13s. 4d. The tax on the possibility of winning £1 13s. 4d. would be 10/-. Ten pounds each way on a horse starting "evens" would yield a gross amount of £2 10s. 0d. for the place bet, and the tax on that possibility would be 10/-. Ten pounds each way at 6 to 4 against would yield £3 15s. 0d. and the tax would be 10/-, or a total of £1 for the win and place. Ten pounds each way at 2 to 1 would yield £5 for the place bet and the tax would be 10/-. There was a horse running in the Derby—Colorado—which started at 13 to 8 against, and I would like to know what amount of place money would be invested on him. I could give a hundred other examples but I think I have given sufficient to convince the Minister and Deputies that a 5 per cent. tax will cut the amount at least in two and, therefore, that a two and a half per cent. tax would bring in a larger sum than a five per cent. tax. I suggest to the Minister that if it is money he is after he should reduce the tax to two and a half per cent. and increase the licence duty on bookmakers substantially. By so doing, he will be reducing considerably the number of betting shops, he will have people of better financial status running them and he will prevent the public from being exploited by undesirable people coming from England and elsewhere. Those people for a £20 licence could start business and by laying liberal odds on big handicaps such as the Grand National, the Derby, the Cesarewitch or Cambridgeshire, could obtain a large sum of money from the public, and when the result was known and when the public who backed the winner came to draw their money, they would find it was a case of "also ran —the bookmaker." I am not asking for a decision on that matter to-night. I throw out the suggestion to the Minister that between now and the Report Stage he should consider the advisability of reducing the tax on starting-price betting. I formally propose the amendment standing in my name.