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Friday, 7 December, 2001, 07:50 GMT
Bookies worry as punters lose punt
Punters placing bets
Betting shop owners fear the euro will reduce bets
By the BBC's Charles Rhodes

There can be little doubt that the Irish love horse racing.

Warm winter sunshine and the prospect of a competitive race card bring out the crowds at Leopardstown Race Course outside Dublin.


I don't think there's much doubt that it's going to affect business

John Kennedy, Bookie
Racing Manager Tom Burke says 5,000 punters should make it a good day.

In Ireland, betting is practically a national pastime. It is worth more than I1bn ($1.14bn) every year.

And it is here, if anywhere, that people are used to handling money and should know if Ireland is ready for the launch of the euro.

The new currency makes its debut on New Year's Day - a day when Irish punters traditionally aim high to try and hit the jackpot.

The odds or the chances of winning are not about to change with the arrival of the euro.

But a bookmaker's ability to calculate several complicated equations simultaneously is about to be tested to the limit.

Like shopkeepers across Euroland, they will be expected to take in Irish punts in bets and pay out winnings in euros.

Bookie concerns

On-course bookie John Kennedy is confident he has the mental dexterity to cope.

But he is concerned that, because the euro is worth more than the Irish punt, punters will place smaller bets when the euro comes.

"I don't think there's much doubt that it's going to affect business," Mr Kennedy says.

"If a customer has a I100 bet now then he's probably going to bet 100 euros next year. And that's really only worth I79."
Terry Rogers
Terry Rogers worries he may run out of euros

In one of his busy Dublin betting shops, Terry Rogers is contemplating a security headache - how to get enough euros into his shops during the Christmas holiday so that he can avoid an embarrassing problem.

He warns, "If the favourites come in on 1 January there is the possibility that we could run out of euros.

"At that stage we'd just have to pay out in punts or ask customers to come back the next day."

Taxis

On the other side of Dublin, taxi drivers pull into the rank alongside Saint Stephen's Green hoping to catch shoppers wanting a lift home.

Surprisingly it is the euro, or rather worries about how taxi drivers are going to cope with it, that dominates the conversation.

I think they're going to have enough difficulty trying to remember their address without having to contend with euros and punts

Vinny Kearns, Taxi Driver's Union

Despite the best efforts of the Euro Changeover Board of Ireland, Dublin's 7,500 taxi drivers seem to have slipped through the detailed and complex planning that has gone into preparing Ireland for E-Day and the launch of the euro.

A delayed fare rise and the need to get three different councils to agree a new fare structure means very few taxi meters have been converted to calculate fares in euros.

It could all add up to a chaotic journey home after welcoming in 2002.

Vinny Kearns, Vice-President of the National Taxi Drivers Union says: "I think they're going to have enough difficulty trying to remember their address without having to contend with euros and punts."

See also:

14 Nov 01 | Business
Britons hold 540m in eurozone cash
30 Aug 01 | Business
Countdown to euro cash
29 Aug 01 | Business
Euro launch lifts security firms
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