SIS will be working with retail bookmakers in the Republic of Ireland to provide more content following the announcement of longer opening hours for shops.
A new bill allows shops to stay open until 10pm compared to the current situation where they have to close at 6pm unless there is evening racing. That means that during the winter shops stay open later only when there is horse racing on a Friday from Dundalk.
Now, the Irish Bookmakers' Association is lobbying to bring forward the changes, due next year, and to get more Irish horse racing on offer in shops.
Sharon Byrne, Commercial Manager for Boylesports, and chairperson for the IBA, said: “It’s a huge step in allowing betting shops to compete with online and remote operators throughout the winter, where customers have been previously forced to bet with other operators when shops were closed!”
The IBA represents around 75% of Ireland's 1081 shops and Byrne added: “We now need to get Dundalk racing a second night throughout the winter to provide quality content for our customers. While this makes total sense for the entire industry including jockeys, trainers and betting shops, it may not be an easy achievement. We have started work on this already!”
Her comments were echoed by Joe Lewins, Managing Director, Ladbrokes Ireland. He said: “I would endorse the need for a second evening meeting throughout the winter evening period (16 meetings) which is a win-win for both the Government who are trying to increase their tax take from the betting and gaming industry but will also benefit from additional VAT PRSI etc from all stakeholders.
“We would call upon Horse Racing Ireland to support the additional meeting and to look at a more flexible prize money structure to allow us to facilitate this.”
SIS worked closely with Irish bookmakers and HRI to introduce more racing at Dundalk and will be doing so again. Brent Dolan, Operations Director, SIS, said: “We’ll do all we can to support our customers and provide more content for shops.
“We also have our Winter Evening Service on offer to shops throughout the UK and this can now be made available to shops in Ireland.”
The Irish Government’s Department of Finance announced the update of Ireland’s betting regulations last week in Betting (Amendment) Bill 2012. As well as the move to allow evening opening, betting exchanges and online operators will now require a licence to take or lay bets in Ireland, and the 1 per cent betting duty will be extended to include online and offshore bookmakers while online betting exchanges will be liable for a 15 per cent gross profit tax.