Ireland’s underfunded domestic football game deserves a bigger slice of the pie from betting taxes.
That’s according to Irish Independent Football Correspondent Daniel McDonnell who made the call after it emerged horse and greyhound racing received €1.5bn in funding from taxes over a 20-year period.
A report commissioned by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) found that racing received around €100m a year between 2001 and 2021.
The football association is questioning what it describes as an ‘unusual funding mechanism’ that effectively sees all taxes from sports betting handed to horse and greyhound racing.
Since the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund was set up in 2001 all Irish betting taxes go to the two sports – with an 80/20 split in favour of horse racing.
The FAI report notes, however, that just 50% to 60% of those taxes is generated from bets on racing.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Mr McDonnell said around 20% to 30% of the revenue is generated through bets on football – with that proportion expected to rise significantly in the coming years.
“What is clear is that football’s share is only going to increase,” he said.
“If you speak to people involved in the betting industry, the profit margins in football are healthy.
“A lot of the internal communications within those firms suggests football is the way to go so in the coming years, it is expected that bets on football will increase but as it stands, all income from that will go to horse racing and greyhound racing.”
When the fund was set up Government gave a commitment that the Exchequer’s contribution would not fall below 2001 levels, with inflation taken into consideration.
As a result, the fund has been topped up numerous times over the years – and Mr McDonnell said the FAI report found that nearly one-third of the €1.5bn handed to Horse and Greyhound came from general taxation income.
He said he believes there is now a strong case to consider the redistribution of the revenue from betting taxes.
“There is a broader debate about whether the taxes on betting should go back into sport, but while it does, while this exists, surely it would make sense for a slightly more proportionate representation,” he said.
“Because football does deliver quite a health benefit to the state and as you know yourself, it has probably been underfunded across a period of time.
“There is a debate here that should happen because the situation that exists now is highly unusual.”
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