David Stanton, T.D., Minister of State in the Department of Justice has announced plans for new legislation which will see the creation of an independent Gambling Authority, regulating gambling and gaming activities within the State.

The Authority, which will be empowered to impose levies on licensed gambling facilities, will operate as in independent statutory authority, rather than an office within the Department of Justice as previously envisaged.

In addition to the power to impose levies, the Authority will have powers to enter and seize documents and computers from licensed operators for suspected breaches of the new legislation. The Authority will also have the power to seek background checks from An Garda Síochána in respect of licensees/ prospective licensees.

As part of an initiative to remediate the ills associated with problem gambling, the levy to be imposed on gambling facility operators will be used to establish a Social Gambling Fund. It is envisaged that the fund will be used to assist in providing treatment for problem gamblers and also to fund research in the area.

A working group is to report to government in respect of various issues relating to the proposed legislation by the summer recess. Further developments will be watched with interest.