According to the Revenue Commissioners, bookmakers throughout Ireland offering virtual roulette are breaking the law and are risking their license. In an opinion that has been expressed by the regulatory office, bookmakers are offering the game as a form of betting, when virtual roulette is, in fact, gaming.
The difference of opinion lies with how the bets are made. In a bookmaker’s shop that offers virtual roulette, the bets are taken with a slip that is filled out by the customer. Bookmakers claim that a wager taken in this manner represents betting and not gaming; therefore, it falls within their betting license. The Revenue Commissioners disagree, and they believe it still falls under the category of gaming, the same as it would be with regular roulette found in a casino.
If bookmakers are found to be violating the law, they could face the loss of their license and face tax issues. Currently, a bookmaker’s license only covers betting and not gaming transactions. In addition, the taxes on gaming are much different. Those who operate under a gaming license owe a 23 percent value added tax while a bookmaker operating under a betting license is only paying a one percent tax on wagers.
The gaming industry, of course, believes that allowing bookmakers to offer virtual roulette places them at a disadvantage in the market. The lower tax rate on betting versus gaming is substantial and gaming companies cannot compete with that. If the Revenue Commissioners do not enforce their interpretation of the laws
, the gaming industry will most likely bring legal actions to stop bookmakers from offering virtual roulette.
Three years ago a British gaming company successfully won a case heard before the European Court of Justice that centered on different tax levels for competitors. The basis for this legal action was a European Directive that states taxes must be applied equally to companies offering the same service to their customers.
At this point, it is not clear whether the bookmaker shops are breaking the law. Those operating virtual roulette games have expressed a clear opinion that they are not while bookmakers not offering the game have remained silent. The legal issue will likely need further clarification from the courts.