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Betting firm Victor Chandler has launched tax-free online betting services in Ireland and plans to create 50 jobs in the Republic over the next 18 months.

Along with creating the new .ie domain presence, the Gibraltar-headquartered firm also plans to offer Web-based gaming. The firm is also to make a "significant" bricks and mortar investment in Ireland.

While not revealing how much Victor Chandler would be investing in Ireland, Head of Irish Operations Ian Marmion said that the company would be pumping substantial amounts of cash into the country in the near future. "We plan to open between 10 and 20 shops over the next few years and employ up to 50 people within 18 months," he told ElectricNews.Net.

"With regard to future growth in Ireland, Victor Chandler has a long company history of being an investor in people and Ireland will be no exception," said Marmion. "We plan to roll out nationwide as we recognise huge growth potential."

Web-based games offered by the firm on the Irish website include an online casino, an online poker room, a simulated soccer betting game, a penalty shoot-out game and a wheel of fortune game.

Victor Chandler currently offers sports betting to online, telephone and retail customers in eight languages. The group is famed for moving its entire account operation from London to Gibraltar in 1999 and thereby introducing tax-free betting for international clients.

A key concept of the Victor Chandler betting lounge is to "provide the modern punter with a high level of customer service in a stylish upmarket environment", according to the firm. The company, which has run betting shops since the 1960s, recently acquired 28 retail outlets in the UK.

Irish bookmaker, Paddy Power, released figures earlier this year showing record increases in operating profit, turnover and earnings per share for 2003. While betting shops have traditionally been the core of the firm's turnover, turnover at the firms Internet division grew by a full 80 per cent during the year, highlighting the increase in popularity of on-line betting.

© ENN

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