Fine Gael TD for Kildare South, Martin Heydon, has today (Thursday) welcomed the inclusion in the Finance Bill amendments of a provision to extend the opening hours of licenced bookmaking premises from 7am in the morning to 10pm in the evening during winter hours.

“This change has long been fought for by the Irish Bookmakers Association on behalf of their members all around the country to ensure that the bookmakers on the street can now have the same opening hours in summer and winter time. This will allow them to continue to compete with their online counterparts who are open 24 hours and importantly to retain the staff that in previous years they’ve had to let go when winter time came in.

“The current legislation which dates back to 1931, requires licensed betting shops to close by 6:30 pm between 1st September and 31st March each year, except on days when an Irish race meeting is taking place, thereby leaving their customers with no choice but to place their bets with online or mobile operators.

“This legislation dates back to a time long before our current online and telephone-based betting systems were envisaged which have meant that betting options are available 24 hours to customers who are looking for them. This change should also lead to an increase in betting duty as online and remote betting providers remain outside of the betting duty regime until the enactment of the Betting Amendment Bill.

“This change has been proposed and included in the Betting Amendment Bill, which frustratingly is currently held up by EU scrutiny. This inclusion in the Finance Bill will provide bookmakers all over the country with certainty that these changes can now be implemented in the coming weeks.”