Ireland implements interim Gambling Act

The interim act streamlines the licence application process.
The interim act streamlines the licence application process.

The interim Gaming and Lotteries Act has come into force ahead of a fuller overhaul of gambling regulations next year

Ireland.- The interim Gambing and Lotteries Act has entered force, modernising the promotion of gaming and standardising a minimum age of 18 for all gambling products.

The interim Act has been introduced ahead of a more comprehensive overhaul of gambling regulation planned for next year.

Minister of State with special responsibility for gambling regulation, James Browne, said: “This act modernises the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 and will help the better promotion of local gaming and lottery activity.

“These activities, held primarily for charitable and philanthropic purposes, are the lifeblood of our sporting clubs and community organisations across the country.”

The new act sets a minimum age limit of 18 for all forms of gambling, including betting on the Tote, which previously had no age limit.

It also aims to streamline and modernise the application process for gaming and lottery permits and for licences to run small-scale, local gaming and lottery activity.

It also adds more consumer protection rules to the promotion of gaming products.

The act also updates stake and prize limits for gaming machines, and includes a provision allowing the minister to amend these amounts by regulation. It also directs more proceeds from lotteries go to charitable causes.

The changes will not effect end-of-year draws, the minister said. Permits and licences already issued under the 1956 act will remain valid until their next renewal date.

Ireland’s gambling industry is estimated to be worth €10bn a year. The country is expected to press ahead with deeper reforms of gaming legislation next year, including the creation of a new gaming regulator which will take on some of the functions currently performed by local authorities and Revenue Commissioners.

Browne said seed funding of €200,000 had been set aside from the justice allocation in the national budget for 2021 to create the regulator, which will then be self-funded via fees and levies charged to licensed operators.

The regulator will create and administer a new social fund to support research, information and treatment regarding gambling-related harm.

Minister Browne said: “Gambling is a large and evolving industry. It must be the subject of a modern, sensible and effective licensing and regulatory approach.

“My department is now engaged in the drafting of a general scheme of a new bill to provide for that comprehensive reform.”

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