It is well known that significant reforms to Ireland’s outdated gambling laws have long been promised. The draft scheme of the Gambling Control Bill (the Bill) was originally published in July 2013. When that legislation is enacted, it will modernise Ireland's legislative framework for all types of online and land-based gambling. However, since the initial publication of the scheme, limited progress appears to have been made in getting the legislation on to the statute books.
However, there are some stirrings in the Parliament, which indicate that the government may, however belatedly, be moving ahead with the legislation. Just last month, the Minister of State for Justice, Mr. David Stanton, announced in response to a parliamentary question, his intention to bring, forward the Gambling Control Bill and for government approval and publication later in 2017.
Developments in the Gambling Area
Mr Stanton stated that the Bill is a major and complex undertaking and informed the Dáil that in support of this work, he had commissioned a recent study to identify trends and developments in the gambling arena since 2013, with a focus on technological innovation and international legislation.
The report, entitled "Developments in the Gambling Area" identifies new and emerging legislation and policy issues, not addressed in the draft scheme of the Bill published in 2013, and which issues will need to be addressed in the new legislation. The author of the study is Dr. Crystal Fulton, from University College Dublin, and the report apparently forms part of a general review process in respect of the regulation of the gambling sector in Ireland.
Interim Legislation in 2017
Pending the enactment into law of the major reform bill, it is anticipated that in the interim, the General Scheme of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, will provide some clarification and much needed amendments to the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. Mr Stanton has indicated that this proposed interim legislation is at an advanced stage and contains a number of measures that will address issues of concern including the minimum age for gambling activities; realistic stake and prize amounts; and that it will provide clear guidance for the conduct of certain gambling activities, which are not currently regulated.
The Tax Srategy Group Review on Betting Duty
The Department of Finance published details on 19 May 2017 of its proposed review of the Irish Betting tax regime. This review will be examined as part of the Tax Strategy Group review process, which analyses the roll out of the betting regime to remote bookmakers and betting exchanges in 2015. It also looks at the likely impact of an increase in the rates of betting duty on:
- Exchequer revenues – including the potential for recovering duty from unlicensed operators (or putting them out of business); and
- The bookmaking industry including the remote sector.
The Department of Finance is seeking feedback from operators in relation to their views on the following specific aspects of the regime:
- The inclusion of the remote sector in the betting regime under the Betting (Amendment) Act 2015;
- Whether the existing model of turnover tax, with a different approach to betting exchanges, is the most appropriate tax model for the industry at this time;
- What is the appropriate level of betting tax (and the equivalent tax on betting exchange commissions); and
- What would be the likely impact of a move from taxing the bookmaker, to taxing the punter i.e. either a percentage tax on all bets placed, paid by the punter, or a (higher) percentage payable on winnings earned by the punter.
The deadline for responding to the review is 19 June 2017 and the Department of Finance has confirmed that they are happy to meet with operators as required.
Submissions should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org. It should be noted that all submissions made to the Department of Finance may be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2014.