JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has published details of the forthcoming Gambling Control Bill which aims to update and modernise Ireland’s gambling laws and allow for the introduction of a limited number of casinos in the State.
The legislation will repeal and replace all existing arrangements for the regulation of betting, gaming, bingo and lotteries – except for the National Lottery – and will extend licensing to the booming online gambling industry.
“This legislation has the twin objective of effectively regulating the new and dynamic gambling sector that has emerged in recent years, while also providing the opportunity to introduce important new measures to protect vulnerable adults and young people,” Shatter said.
It also sets out provisions for the licensing of casinos in Ireland with the number of new casinos to be established in this country to be limited to 40. No casino will be permitted to have more than 15 tables.
There will also be a new state agency, the Office for Gambling Control, established. It will license and regulate the sector and will be financed from licence fees and what the Department of Justice said were “other charges”.
The legislation will also provide for the establishment of a Social Gambling Fund that will assist with treatment services for gambling addicts. This will be funded by a levy on gambling operators.
Consumer complaints procedures and controls on advertising in addition to age restrictions will also be established.
‘Two Mile Vegas’
“I expect the gambling sector to commit itself in a meaningful way to the concept and practice of socially responsible gambling,” Shatter said today.
“I will accept nothing less than high quality services and I will make sure that all operators pay their share for the development of services needed by people for whom gambling has become a problem.”
The restrictions within the bill mean that the proposed super casino at Two Mile Borris in Tipperary would not be permissible which has led to one of the backers of the so-called ‘Two Mile Vegas’ project, Michael Lowry, to criticise the bill as “short-sighted and negative”.
“This is a missed opportunity to modernise our gaming law in line with European norms. The Minister’s proposed legislative reform will fail to maximise the potential for the gaming sector and the benefit to the economy as a whole,” the Tipperary North TD said today.
He said that the level of activity that can be conducted in a casino under the terms of the bill is “ridiculously low” and will have “no appeal to the industry”.
Lowry said that the promoter of the project, Richard Quirke, will engage in the consultation process in a bid to show that the proposals in the legislation are not workable for any casino.