The General Scheme of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 (the “Scheme”) was published on the website of the Department of Justice on Wednesday 2 August.

Of the 122 sections contained in the Scheme, it is proposed that 39 sections will amend the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 (the “1956 Act”), 1 section will amend the National Lottery Act 2013 and 1 section will amend the Totalisator Act 1929.

According to the Outline of the General Scheme, the changes to the 1956 Act encompass a series of amendments to provide, in the main, for modernisation of the 1956 regime and to provide greater clarity and certainty for all promoters and participants involved, and to combat potential fraudulent behaviour.

By way of high level summary, it is proposed to amend the 1956 Act as follows:

  1. by clarifying the application process and conditions required for promoters of gaming, raffles and lotteries, including at various permitted locations, events, etc.
  2. requiring that a charitable beneficiary of a raffle or lottery be registered with the Charities Regulator.
  3. that the charitable and philanthropic purposes be clearly stated in the promoter’s application.
  4. setting out the distribution ratios for prizes, beneficiary and promoter expenses for those raffles and lotteries held under District Court licence (€30,000 limit) – currently only the promoter expenses, up to 40% of income, is specified.
  5. the stakes and prizes permitted by the 1956 Act are adjusted upwards in a realistic manner, with maximum rates of stakes and prize money (currently 3c and 50c respectively) permitted as follows:
    1. licensed gaming machines (slots, etc.) to allow for a stake of up to €10 and a prize of up to €750;
    2. certain gaming and lottery activities to allow for a stake of up to €10 and a prize of up to €3,000 where the promoter of the gaming may personally benefit; and
    3. certain gaming and lottery activities to allow for a stake of up to €10 and a prize of up to €5,000 for charitable or philanthropic purposes.
  6. standardising the age limit for participating in gaming and lottery activities at 18 years of age. Currently, some activities require an 18 year limit, some require a 16 year limit, while betting on the Tote has no age limit. (Both the National Lottery Act 2013 and Betting Act 1931 provide for an age limit of 18 for engaging in their relevant gambling activities). The Totalisator Act 1929 will be amended with the insertion of an age limit of 18 years for betting with the Tote.

Interestingly, the policy context of the introduction of the Scheme is discussed in the Department of Justice publication. It is noted that the current regulation of the gambling sector in Ireland is “outdated”. It is also noted that the cost of repealing all gambling legislation in Ireland and enacting the Gambling Control Bill 2013 has not been determined but is “likely to be sizeable in terms of financial and staff resources”. Finally, it is noted that there is a “detailed ongoing review of the General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill”.

We are currently preparing a more detailed client briefing on the changes proposed by the Scheme.