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Justice Minister Alan Shatter reveals the proposed new law that will limit the number and size of casinos that can operate in Ireland.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has published details of the forthcoming Gambling Control Bill which aims to update and modernise Ireland’s gambling laws, extending licensing to online gaming and allowing for the introduction of a limited number of casinos in the country (40 with a maximum of 15 tables each). If approved, the bill will repeal and replace all existing regulation of betting, gaming, bingo and lotteries, except for the National Lottery.

This legislation has the twin objective of effectively regulating the new and dynamic gambling sector that has emerged in recent years, while also providing the opportunity to introduce important new measures to protect vulnerable adults and young people – Shatter said.

A new state agency, the Office for Gambling Control, will license and regulate the sector and will be financed from licence fees and “other charges”.

The legislation will also provide for the establishment of a Social Gambling Fund that will assist with treatment services for gambling addicts. This will be funded by a levy on gambling operators.

The proposals in the Scheme are guided by the widely accepted principles of gambling regulation, i.e. to ensure:

  • fairness in the conduct of gambling,
  • the protection of vulnerable persons, including children, from risks to their well being arising from gambling,
  • the avoidance of circumstances where gambling could, inadvertently or otherwise,
    facilitate or enable criminal or illegal activity,
  • consumer choice and protection.

(Gambling Control Bill 2013)

I expect the gambling sector to commit itself in a meaningful way to the concept and practice of socially responsible gambling – Shatter said.

I will accept nothing less than high quality services and I will make sure that all operators pay their share for the development of services needed by people for whom gambling has become a problem.

As a consequence of the bill, the proposed super casino at Two Mile Borris in Tipperary would not be permissible. One of the backers of the so-called ‘Two Mile Vegas’ project, Michael Lowry, has judged the bill as “short-sighted and negative”.

This is a missed opportunity to modernise our gaming law in line with European norms. The Minister’s proposed legislative reform will fail to maximise the potential for the gaming sector and the benefit to the economy as a whole – the Tipperary North TD added,

being in his opinion the potential level of activity “ridiculously low”, with “no appeal to the industry”.

We’ll see how this neverending story will end likely soon.

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