5/13/10 – The Press Association reports that seven independent bookmakers in Ireland have joined forces online to compete with rival chain operators for a slice of the estimated Euro 1.5 billion internet gambling action.
 
Directors of new website Bet Pack.com say they hope the project will safeguard the jobs of 500 betting shop staff.
 
Bet Pack spokesman Jimmy Finlay said it was one of the biggest developments yet in Irish bookmaking.
 
"We were losing approximately 25 percent of earnings to online betting once we closed our shops in the evening and now we can develop a relationship with our customers both over the counter and through the website," he said. "It is a boost to every bookmaker involved as this will now help safeguard the jobs of our staff while also helping to engage with more customers online."
 
The investment, which has created eight new jobs, has been formed by Bambury Bookmakers, Hackett's, Mulholland's, Terry Rogers, Toolan Bookmakers, Track Bookmakers and Tully's.
 
Together the group operates 180 betting shops nationwide.
 
It aims to take in Euro 200 million on online bets in the first year – recouping the money they claim they are losing over the internet to high-profile competitors.
 
It is estimated that Euro 3.2 billion is laid in betting shops in Ireland every year with up to Euro 1.5 billion wagered online through sports bets, casino, poker and bingo sites.
 
Finlay said the increased online competition will create a level playing field for independent traders to compete with big international firms. Directors also hope more independent bookmakers will join the online venture in the coming months.
 
"Since we went online with BetPack, even before we were officially launched and the news got around the bookmaking circuit, we have had inquiries every day from bookmakers looking to get involved," Finlay claimed.