Govt To Establish Gambling Regulation Authority

The Minister of State with special responsibility for gambling regulation, David Stanton TD, has announced that the Government has approved the establishment of an Irish gambling regulatory authority.

The decision is part of two initiatives agreed at cabinet in relation to the future regulation of gambling in Ireland, and will see legislation granted as well as a Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 to modernise a range of other issues in the interim, including standardising the minimum gambling age to 18.

Establishing the gambling regulatory authority as an independent statutory body under the Department of Justice and Equality is the key recommendation of the report of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on the Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling.

Minister Stanton said: "A modern and effectively regulated gambling environment will ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that gambling will be a safe, fair and entertaining activity for the majority of those who choose to take part in it. We must ensure that it will provide enhanced consumer protection for players while limiting to the greatest extent possible the harmful effects on young people and those who may be susceptible to addiction."

It is intended that the authority will develop and enforce necessary and appropriate licensing and regulatory measures in respect of all gambling activities, including online. The authority will also regulate the industry in respect of protection of vulnerable persons, including age restrictions, staff training, self-exclusion measures and controls on advertising, promotions and sponsorship. It will also allow for the establishment of a Social Fund which will support research, information campaigns and even treatment. The Fund is expected to be supported by levies on licensed operators.

The Department of Justice and Equality will now draft the necessary heads of legislation. In parallel, work will be advanced on scoping the resources needed to establish an effective regulatory regime.

The Minister added: "The Government has made a major commitment to the modernisation of our licensing and regulatory environment for gambling. It will require resources. However, the ultimate aim is that the regulatory authority will be self-financing through fees and levies imposed on licensed gambling operators."

Government also today approved the publication of the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019, which provides for the modernisation of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 by way of, among other matters, bringing clarity to the permit and licensing approach to small scale, local gaming and lottery activity, updating certain stake and prize limits and standardising the minimum gambling age at 18.   

Minister Stanton continued: "The amendments to the 1956 Act published today will help the promotors of local gaming and lottery activity, primarily sporting clubs, by bringing much needed clarity to the application process for permits and licences. This is an interim reform measure pending development of comprehensive reform in this area. The issue of underage gambling is one that I am particularly anxious to address. I propose to standardise the age limit for participating in all activities under the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 at 18 years of age. In addition, the Totalisator Act 1929 will be amended to provide for an age limit of 18 years for betting with the Tote."

The Bill increases the stake and prize limits to €10 and €750 respectively (from 3c and 50c) for those gaming machines permitted under the conditions of Part III of the Act. These limits have not been increased since 1956.

The Minister concluded: "Gambling activity is of considerable economic impact in Ireland. The value of the Irish gambling market annually has been estimated as being between €6 billion and €8 billion. The industry is large, growing and evolving from a largely land-based manifestation to an online one. The measures announced today will help ensure the proper licensing and regulation of the many varied forms of gambling available in the State."


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