SDLP Leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has said current laws governing the betting industry must be updated to take into account the increase in offshore and online gambling.
Speaking from Westminster on Thursday (20th January), Ms Ritchie said, “Representing a constituency which has a substantial horse racing industry, I want to see an updating of legislation involving greater regulation of the betting industry which is currently being undermined by offshore gambling.
“The funding of racing in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland depends on returns from the betting industry and in both jurisdictions the amount of funding has decreased significantly due to the amount of business which is being directed offshore, and because some of the larger bookmaking chains are taking advantages of loopholes in the system to avoid making a fair contribution.
“Those issues need to be addressed urgently as it is having a detrimental impact on jobs for people in the horseracing industry.
“Presently, the law enables unlicensed individuals to lay bets and pay no gross profits, tax or any associated costs on their winnings. and as a result smaller bookmakers and gambling establishments in our rural towns are suffering greatly.
“Action must be taken now to change outdated legislation and thus ensure that our horseracing industry has a sustainable future,” she added.