On 10 January 2018, David Stanton, the Irish Minister of State in the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for gambling, received approval from Cabinet on proposals to introduce updated gambling legislation in Ireland. Minister Stanton also asked Cabinet for approval to draft a new General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill. The General Scheme is essentially an outline of the policy that will be included in the draft Bill.
Those that have been following the progress (or arguably, the lack of progress) of the Gambling Control Bill will recall that the General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill was originally published in 2013 and was followed by a period of consultation with the stakeholders in the industry. However, little or no progress has been made on the Bill since 2013.
As almost 5 years has passed since the publication of the General Scheme, Minister Stanton sought approval from Cabinet to bring forward a new General Scheme which would take account of updates in the industry since 2013.
Among the changes to be introduced in the new General Scheme is a recommendation that the industry be regulated by an independent regulator. The General Scheme as published in 2013 proposed that a regulator would be established within the Department of Justice and that proposal had been roundly criticised.
The Minister intends to have a further period of consultation with stakeholders in the industry once the new General Scheme is published. The Minister has indicated that the introduction of gambling legislation is a priority for him and that he hopes to publish the new General Scheme by the summer of 2018, with the Bill to be drafted and published before the end of the year.
However in a recent media interview, Minister Stanton acknowledged that such a timetable might well be overly optimistic. We are inclined to agree with the Minster and while it will be welcome to see the outline of the new legislation in 2018, it seems extremely doubtful that the new Bill will be published this year.