Early next week, the Government is scheduled to publish the draft heads of the Gambling Control Bill 2013. The Bill is intended to provide for the regulation of casinos, online gambling, lotteries, bingo, amusement arcades and gaming machines in Ireland. A public consultation process will take place after the heads of the Bill are published and there will be an opportunity to make representations in respect of the proposed content of the legislation.
The process is being managed by the Department of Justice and this new legislation will likely lead to the repeal of the outdated Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956.
The Government set up a Casino/Gaming Regulation Committee in August 2006 to examine the legislative basis for the regulation of casinos in Ireland. The Committee published a report in July 2008 under the title Regulating Gaming in Ireland (PDF - 2.11MB). It was clear from the Report that further detailed consultation and analysis was required before the Government could proceed on introducing any new regulatory regime in relation to gambling. A further paper entitled Options for Regulating Gambling was published in December, 2010, based on the outcome of the Government's review of gambling.
The contents of the 2013 Bill will reflect what is contained in both the 2006 and 2010 Government reports.
Key Features of the Bill
The 3 key principles underpinning the legislation are as follows:
- The protection of minors and players;
- The prevention of crime;
- Gambling to be fairly and openly conducted.
- A restriction on the number of tables and the number of gaming machines in each casino premises.
- The licensing of smaller casinos with strict controls over their location and the scale and type of gambling permitted.
- A prohibition on any "super casinos" or "resort casinos".
- The establishment of a regulator under the auspices of the Minister for Justice.
- The licensing of the previously unregulated on-line gaming sector.
- The regulation of gaming machines.
- The regulation of lotteries apart from the National Lottery (regulated by the National Lottery Act 2013).
- A prohibition on FOBT's.
- The regulation of bingo. The publication of the scheme of the bill and the consultation process which will be initiated represents a unique opportunity to influence the shape of the legislation.