The Horse racing business suffered like most others.
Betting at all Irish race courses in 2006 was 214 Million Euro, by 2015 it was down to 67 Million. Galway’s 12 day splurge in 2006 saw 27.5 Million gambled, by 2015 this was down to 10.9 Million. Attendances in the same years was 217,000 down to 149,000.
Despite this steady decline there is One Group who are pouring ever increasing amounts into this “sport of kings”, a “playground of billionaires” (Ml O’Leary & JP McManus come to mind). This One Group have committed 74 Million for the current year, and so confident is Horse Racing Ireland of this level of support and more continuing into the future that it has established a Development Fund to spend 100 Million to upgrade the country’s 26 racecourses.
To put this in perspective, with our population of 4.7 Million that’s 1 racecourse for every 181,000 people; by comparison the UK have 59 courses, that’s 1 for every 1.1 Million people ! Obvious question, in a small country of 26 counties do we need 26 racecourses?
Oh, the One Group who continue to pour funds into this sport is none other than the Irish Taxpayer ! The 1% betting tax raised 26 Million last year, well short of the 74 Million the Taxpayer is contributing. It is being extended to online betting in the hope of raising additional income. Since most of the online betting companies operate out of Tax Havens, the chance of the Irish Revenue getting its fair share of this miserable 1% tax is anyone’s guess.
As an aside, this morning the newspaper headlines noted 530,000 folk on hospital waiting lists, 70,000 waiting more than one year! In the last few days while driving I heard two Private Hospitals (Mater Private & Blackrock Clinic) running regular advertisements looking for more customers. One group of Healthcare providers are spending money trying to attract sick customers, another group of Healthcare providers cannot cope with the queues of sick people. Confusing.