Dáil Éireann - Volume 663 - 08 October, 2008
Written Answers. - Sports Funding.
Deputy Joe Costello Deputy Joe Costello
Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the amount of the funding to the horse and greyhound fund that was provided from the central Exchequer; the amount that was provided from the excise duty on off-course betting for each year since 2001; if he will make this information available in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33763/08]
Deputy Joe Costello Deputy Joe Costello
Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will extend the horse and greyhound fund into the period beyond 2008; the amount of funding that has been paid from the central Exchequer to this fund since its inception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33756/08]
Deputy Martin Cullen Deputy Martin Cullen
 Deputy Martin Cullen: I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 176 together.
The Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund was established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001 for the purpose of giving support to both racing industries. Under the provisions of the Act, the Fund is calculated on the basis of excise duty on off-course betting in the preceding year, subject to a minimum level based on the year 2000 amount adjusted for inflation. Any shortfall in the amount generated by the excise duty is made up by direct Exchequer subvention.
In accordance with the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act 2001, 80% and 20% of the moneys paid into the Fund each year are distributed between Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and Bord na gCon respectively. By the end of 2008, a total of almost €546 million will have been paid out of the Fund. Of this, HRI will have received €437 million and Bord na gCon will have received €109 million.
Since 2001, income from the Fund has been used by both bodies towards increasing prize money levels, meeting administration and integrity costs together with a programme of capital investment which has underpinned a significant growth in both sectors.
Since the establishment of the Fund a major period of development of both industries has resulted. The funding has allowed Ireland to develop into a world centre of excellence for horseracing and greyhound racing.
In 2004, HRI launched a €250 million Capital Development Fund for Irish Racecourses, which is being spent over five years, to continue the substantial upgrading of racecourses. HRI will provide up to €135 million in grant aid and the racecourses will finance the balance from their own resources.
To date the Fund has not only helped towards providing some top class racing venues and facilities, but it has also underpinned significant employment in the industries. Horse breeding is a significant net contributor to the Irish economy and has an important role to play in generating employment, particularly in the tourism and agri-economy sectors, making it a significant regional employer and an important contributor to rural communities. The Irish greyhound industry is also regarded as one of the most vibrant and successful in the world.
Prior to 2001 the Horse and Greyhound Racing Bodies were funded with annual grant-in-aid allocations as well as a fixed fee from off-course betting and 0.3% of turnover from off-course betting.
The rationale of the Fund was that horse and greyhound racing needed certainty in relation to its funding support on a multi-annual basis and that such funding to develop the industries should be derived from the duty generated from off-course betting. When the Fund commenced in 2001, Excise Duty on off-course betting was 5%, which was subsequently reduced by the Minister for Finance to 2% from 1st May 2002. The resulting fall in revenue caused the yield for 2002, 2003 and 2004 to fall below the guaranteed minimum level. In the Budget 2006, the Minister for Finance further reduced the Excise Duty on off-course betting from 2% to 1% from 1 July 2006 with the intention that the tax is borne by the industry and not the customer. This has also resulted in revenue below the guaranteed minimum level up to 2008.
The shortfall met from direct Exchequer revenue sources was €110.58m during the period 2001-2007 and is likely to be a total of €150.43m up to the end of 2008. In 2004, the Government put in place regulations to increase the limit of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund from €254m to €550m to continue the Fund for a further four years to 2008.
 The current round of the Fund is due to expire early in 2009. A review of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund is currently underway. Any extension of the Fund will require the approval of the Government and the Oireachtas.
The 2007 figure for Betting Duty Receipts is provisional — the final figure is not yet available but the Office of the Revenue Commissioners do not expect a significant variance.
Question No. 139 answered with Question No. 136.
Dáil Éireann 663 Written Answers. Sports Funding.