Future of On-Course Bookmakers in doubt

By Vincent Finegan

Fri 25th Jan 2013, 16:02
Brian Kavanagh
Brian Kavanagh
(Healy Racing Photos)
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of HRI, questioned the future viability of on-course betting when commenting on the 2012 Irish Horse Racing Statistics released today.

The on-course betting figures for last year were down 20.8% from €124.2m to €98.4m. The fall in on-course bookmaker turnover continues to decline at an even faster rate and now stands at €76m compared to the 2007 high of €205m.

Kavanagh stated: “The on-course betting sector is suffering more than any other and without reform of betting taxation along the lines proposed in the Betting (Amendment) Bill 2012, its very future is doubtful.”

It wasn't all doom and gloom in 2012 as Bloodstock Sales continue to buck the trends elsewhere in the industry and rose by 15.4% from €81m to €93.5m. Unfortunately the number of horses in training (down 6%) and the number of owners (down 11.7%) both fell.

Commenting on these figures Kavanagh said: “Irish horses and racing professionals continue to dominate the world stage, which is driving international demand for our bloodstock. Six of the last seven European Champion two-year olds were trained in Ireland, with five of them also bred here, including the 2012 Champion Dawn Approach. The fall in ownership and horses in training remains a cause for concern and for this reason, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing is recruiting a senior manager with responsibility for developing ownership at home and abroad”.

Brian Kavanagh went on to say: “The horse racing and breeding sector is an industry which contributes c. €1bn annually to the Irish economy; employs in excess of 16,000 people and is responsible for exports worth €174m. Ireland remains the biggest producer of thoroughbred foals in Europe and is fourth in the world. To maintain and develop that status, the industry awaits the enactment of legislation to bring off-shore betting within the taxation net with an appropriate level of betting duty to ensure the industry is funded without exchequer subvention while maintaining a link between betting duty raised and industry funding.

While demand for Irish bloodstock continues to grow, the reality is that the majority of that demand is from overseas and for export. Particularly on the flat, we need to encourage more international owners to keep horses in training and breeding stock in Ireland. Competition from other countries is at an all-time high in this respect, and Ireland cannot be complacent about its position in this global industry.”

Leopardstown inspection

Leopardstown are not anticipating any difficulties tomorrow but are calling a precautionary inspection at 8am Saturday morning.