I move amendment No. 8:
In page 41, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:
"39. The Minister shall, within 3 months of the passing of this Act, present to the Houses of the Oireachtas a report on his or her future plans for betting duty and the funding of the horse racing and greyhound racing industries and his or her plans for taxation of other areas of gambling.".
I welcome the passage of the legislation, which will take place in the House in a couple of minutes. It will bring additional revenue to the State, which will help next year's budget and offset measures which may have been necessary if this revenue was not available to the State. It will be approximately €20 million per annum. It is deplorable that this was not done when the Government took office and that we have waited for so long to apply this duty to online and remote bookmakers. It will not cost them a fortune and they will not lose any sleep over it. One must consider the effect an amount less than €20 million had on discretionary medical cards and children with disabilities, whom we discussed yesterday. We are dealing with only a fraction of the amount involved. Much pain and suffering has been inflicted on the people as a result of various measures. This measure is relatively painless and should have been introduced many years ago.
I point this out because while the Bill is welcome, it is only a drop in the ocean. We need to go further than this. The betting duty needs to be increased to an appropriate amount, which I believe is 3%. As amendment No. 9 states, the betting duty should be placed on the customer and not the operator. High street bookies are closing down because they cannot afford their overheads or betting duty of 1%. I have spoken to independent bookmakers who have told me they are in engagements and arrangements with the Revenue Commissioners to pay the 1% betting duty. They have already closed some of their operations because they are trying to restructure and downsize. If the betting duty were increased to 3% and charged on them, it would put the majority of them out of business, but if it were charged on the customer, as it always used to be in the State, it would not only ensure they remained open but would mean they would grow because their profits would increase overnight.
One person told me that the shops he closed he could reopen if the betting duty were passed on to the customer. In my view the bigger operators will be able to absorb a betting duty of 2% and will force the smaller operators to do the same, but they will not be able to carry that weight. I believe the bigger operators would not be able to carry 3% themselves and would be forced to pass it on to the customer, which would provide a level playing field.
Amendment No. 9 deals with a report on the funding of the horse and greyhound industries. There is a serious question over that. Will the horse and greyhound industries be funded to the appropriate level? Will the money from the betting duty be ring-fenced for that purpose or will it just go into the general pot? Will there continue to be a reduction to the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund as we have seen in recent years? Can we give some certainty to the industry that employs thousands of people and brings in a large amount of foreign currency to the country? Can we support that and give it some sort of stability? With this legislation coming forward, questions remain to be answered.
There is also a bigger issue, which is that the other areas of gambling are not being taxed. The Bill is called the Betting (Amendment) Bill, but it only places a tax on the sports books of the bookies; the other books are not taxed. Those going onto the Paddy Power website, as I have done in the past, go into the card games, including Texas Hold 'Em, poker and the tournaments, which is where much of the money is generated. Also no taxes are being levied on any of the casino games such as roulette which are very profitable. The sports book represents a smaller part of the overall book.
While we are making progress with this legislation we need to remember we are taxing online bookies on sports - horseracing, greyhound racing, football and so forth - but we are not taxing the other parts of the industry which are very profitable. I believe this is relatively painless. Any punter who bets €10 on a roulette table and wins €100 will be willing to pay 3% on the profits. They would be willing to do that if they won €100 on the horses, but they are also willing to do it if they win it at a card game, such as blackjack, a roulette table or whatever. It is important that we get our act together and place an appropriate levy that is capable of sustaining the industry. Revenues should be brought into the State that will offset measures that may have to be taken in other areas.
I believe this is a no-brainer. I welcome that we are moving three years on to apply this tax. However, we should increase the rate and ask the punter to pay the tax because it is the only vice that goes untaxed. On everything else people pay tax. On this one a punter does not pay tax. The revenue that could be generated for the State from taxing the other books within the gambling sector would be quite substantial. The Government needs to start working as soon as possible on a more comprehensive Bill to deal with those other areas that have remained untouched by the betting duty.