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Online firms like Betfair and Betpack have put the squeeze on small bookmaking firms.
Challenging times for local bookies
WHILE there has undoubtedly has been an increase in widespread gambling, small Irish bookmakers are increasingly finding it difficult to operate in what they term an ‘unfair playing field’.
The decrease in popularity of horse racing betting and the draw of internet bookmakers has seen many small operators having to close their doors.
Major firms working on economies of scale are squeezing out small competitors with deals that aren’t necessarily better than the small institutions, according to The Irish Bookmakers’ Association.
“Independent bookmakers provide more value in their betting but the bigger operators have deals that aren’t necessarily good deals for punters,” said Sharon Byrne of The Irish Bookmakers’ Association.
According to the organisation, the massive advantage of online betting and betting with mobile phones, provided by the major bookies who do not pay Irish tax on their online profits, is making a competitive market even harder to make money in for Irish outlets.
“You don’t even need to go into a bookies anymore, you can simply place a bet on your mobile or at home on the computer, these bets are not subject to the same tax that the shop bookies are,” she concluded.
John Stagg operates an independent bookies in Ballindine. He told The Mayo News last week that business has fallen considerably since the start of the recession.
“There has definitely been a decline since the recession, the fellas betting hundreds of Euro are now only betting maybe €20. People used to gamble as a pastime, they simply don’t have the money anymore and putting food on the table is a lot more important. The lads on the building sites with their pay packets on a Friday don’t have jobs anymore.
“Most of my trade would be a passing trade, where people might get a tip on a horse, place a bet but they might never come back into the bookies again. It is hard to compete with the likes of Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, they can offer an array of specials which independent bookmakers just can’t compete with,” he concluded.
Mr Stagg takes bets on local GAA matches and has local knowledge which allows him to give odds for matches that the bigger bookies won’t offer any prices on.
There are a total of 33 bookmakers in Mayo at present, employing 165 people. Nationally there 288 shops, employing 6,440 people.