Ladbrokes could be about to terminate all its on-course bookmaking activity in Ireland, because of the country’s betting tax being doubled to 2%.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ladbrokes Ireland director Jackie Murphy also underlined that the tax hikes will likely mean that operator will end its sponsorship of races where it currently holds on course betting operations.

The operator currently has betting shops at eight racecourses: Galway, Limerick, Killarney, Punchestown, Listowel, Navan, Gowran Park and Clonmel. Murphy emphasised that these opportunities are unlikely to be seen as profitable for operators, after the tax hike.

Murphy detailed that the only contract its likely to pursue the extension of is Punchestown, due to the high level of television coverage and exposure the course gets.

The warnings of Ladbrokes come after Boylesports also responded to the increased taxation in the country by stating it would have to seriously reconsider its stance on sponsorships within Ireland. Boylesports has a significant sponsorship portfolio in the country, currently being partnered with  the Irish Grand National and Irish Greyhound Derby.

Ireland’s second largest bookmaker also warned its staff that jobs are at risk following the government’s decision, which will inevitably have severe implications for the Irish gambling and racing sector.

When the new budget was released, Sharon Byrne, chairperson of the Irish Bookmakers Association warned of the potentially daunting implications: “We had 1,365 shops in 2008. We were down to 850 and it had kind of stabilised this year. Now, the 200 independents that were able to survive have no hope. I’ve taken calls from them all morning – they are distraught. I’m calling an emergency meeting of the association for Friday morning to see what we can do.

“Fifteen minutes before the minister made the announcement he had just been talking about how important it was to save all the little jobs in the country and provide support to small companies, and then he wipes out these shops across the country.

“It will force punters to off-shore operators and black markets. Most of these towns only have one shop and they are going to be gone, so punters will either go online or to the black market.”

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