Saturday, January 22, 2011

Finance Bill taxes internet betting sites - will this lead to blocking of offshore sites?

In my last post I looked at the possible implications of the Finance Bill for Irish computer crime and data protection laws. I missed, however, another important aspect of the Bill, which is that it will extend betting duty to internet betting sites. (In my defence, I didn't read all 223 pages of the Bill and don't plan to do so any time soon. The relevant provision is s.46, at p.186.)

According to the Taoiseach, this extension of duty will be matched by a new requirement that offshore providers obtain a licence to offer their services in Ireland:
The Government will introduce legislation to ensure that overseas betting providers comply with a licensing regime that will permit them to sell their products into our jurisdiction.
So what happens if the offshore providers decide not to play ball? It might not be a coincidence that the Department of Justice has been considering the introduction of internet filtering for some time now - and officials in the Department's Gaming Control section have been taking part in this discussion (PDF released under FOI - see item 49). I can't help but suspect that there will be calls for ISPs to block access to offshore sites which don't pay this new tax - and there have been some European developments in this direction already.

Watch this space.

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