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McCann FitzGerald to report on optimum structure for gambling regulatory body

21 Mar 2019 / legislation Print

Law firm to report on optimum structure for gambling body

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.

McCann FitzGerald was contracted in December 2018 by the Structural Reform Support Service of the European Commission to conduct a research project on a modern regulatory environment. Their work will conclude by mid-summer 2019.

This research will contribute to the development of the structure for the proposed gambling regulatory authority.

The licensing and regulatory role around gaming machines of local authorities, the District Court and the Revenue Commissioners, will cease under the new regulatory structure.

Licence

There is no change proposed to the prize amounts of €5,000 for lotteries held under Garda permit or €30,000 (weekly limit) under a District Court licence.

The bill makes provision for a prize fund limit of €360,000, where a one-off annual lottery is promoted under a District Court licence.

The Department of Justice and Equality will now draft the necessary heads of legislation.

The gambling regulatory authority will be set up as an independent statutory body under the auspices of the Department of Justice and Equality.

Its establishment is the key recommendation of the report of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on the Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling. 

Safe

Minister David Stanton (pictured) 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.”

The authority will develop and enforce licensing and regulatory measures in respect of all gambling activities, including online.

The authority will also regulate to protect 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 addiction treatment by way of levies on licensed operators.

Fees

The minister added that the regulatory authority will be entirely self-financing through fees and levies imposed on gambling operators.

Government also approved the publication of the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019, which provides for the modernisation of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956.

It will clarify 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.   

Powers

The bill does not propose any changes with regard to sections 12 and 13 of the 1956 Act concerning local authority powers to adopt resolutions permitting, or otherwise, gaming in their administrative areas.

The Department of Justice and Equality has no current role or responsibility with regard to gaming machines.

The minister said “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.

Age limit

“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 value of the Irish gambling market annually has been estimated at between €6 billion and €8 billion.

The full report of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on the Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Inter-Departmental_Working_Group_on_Future_Licensing_and_Regulation_of_Gambling.pdf/File

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