Irish Gambling Control Bill 2013 – Ireland’s Regulation of Gaming

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In 2013, the Irish Gambling Control Bill 2013 was introduced as a Private Members’ Bill by the Fianna Fáil, the largest opposition faction to the current regime. This Irish gaming law is still hung up in Parliament and has yet to reach the second debate stage, and the language included will need revision before advancing.

The bill’s intention is to outline what the language of the eventual regulating bill must include. Because the structure of the 2013 control bill follows the advised protocols outlined in previously drafted planning documents, it is expected to receive favorable reviews from Parliament members. Still, there are amendments to the language that will need to be debated.

Implications Of The Irish Gambling Control Bill 2013

The bill establishes a new arm of the Irish government to regulate gaming called the Office of Gambling Control Ireland (OGCI). The entity will exist within the Department of Justice and will create and enforce relevant gaming regulations.

If the Irish Gambling Control Bill 2013 is implemented, it will cause the repeal of:

  • The Betting Act 1931
  • The Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956

The new bill will combine all previously regulated industries under one gambling management entity. The bill outlines guidelines for fair play in the gambling industry, minimizing risk to problem gamblers and providing support, and shining a light on criminal gaming enterprises.

Typically, gaming legislation includes an outline detailing how the government will draw tax revenue from legal gambling proceeds, but the Irish Gambling Control Bill 2013 does not serve this purpose. Additional legislation will need to be created and enacted to govern gaming revenue administration.

The bill allows for the creation of lottery games, but additional legislation will also need to be written to establish the amount that will be given to charity, and which charitable entities will benefit from the proceeds. The legislation will set aside funds to pay for the administration of social services aimed at promoting responsible legal gambling in Ireland. Bingo will be declared legal by this bill and will be given the green light for commercial operation.

What The 2013 Bill Will Regulate

Gambling industries controlled by the OGCI under the 2013 bill include:

  • Gaming
  • Betting
  • Lottery
  • Bingo
  • Slot Machines
  • Video Gambling Machines

The OGCI will not regulate the following sectors:

  • Horse Racing
  • Greyhound Racing

These two categories will remain under the control of Horse Racing Ireland and the Irish Greyhound Board, respectively.

All Irish gaming facilities will require a license, and the OGCI has 43 licenses available to apply for. There are several types of licenses available depending on the kind of facility, including gaming, betting, remote, temporary, and personal licenses.

There are currently nearly two dozen private club casinos operating in Ireland, which include poker, table games, slot machines, and fixed odds betting at terminals. The industry employs thousands of people who will be affected if their employer doesn’t receive one of the coveted licenses required by the new legislation. 

The bill limits the number of Irish casinos in the country to forty, which includes a maximum of 15 gaming tables and 25 gaming machines at each location. Prohibited by the bill are sports betting terminals and sportsbooks of any kind.

The Future Of Irish Gambling Control Bill 2013

Members of Ireland’s Parliament are not in agreeance that the OGCI should fall under the Department of Justice, with some arguing that it should be an independent entity. Granting the control to the OGCI and placing them within the Department of Justice has met resistance. The bill has been idle for nearly two years, and a consensus is not within sight.

The country suffers an inordinately high percentage of problem gamers, and those that are addicted to gambling need support and treatment. On the other side of the political coin, legislators may be taking a hands-off approach to the bill because of its controversial nature, allowing for it to idle. With the betting facilities also lobbying the legislation at full tilt, the bill could be hung up for a long time.

Irish Gambling Control Bill 2013 will bring Irish gambling laws into close alignment with those of neighboring England, whose annual intake from the gaming industry is in excess of £14 billion per year. It’s passage will deliver much needed regulation and will provide for the installation of consistent fair play practices.

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