Ireland’s Department of Justice and Law Reform has published its comprehensive report titled “Options for Regulating Gambling.” The study is the first serious effort by the government to update its basis for current gaming legislation: the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 and the Betting Act of 1931
Aiming to create a consensus for change, the 44-page report establishes three basic principles to guide potential legislation. These are that young people and the vulnerable are protected, that gambling be conducted fairly and openly, and that gambling is kept free of crime.
The report acknowledges that the need for change grew from the reality that casino gaming was already occurring in so-called private members clubs, and that online gaming was being offered by even traditional betting operators.
For casinos, the report suggests limiting operations to 15 gaming tables and three gaming machines per table. Poker tables would be considered as separate from the 15-table limit. No casinos would be able to offer slots without having table games.
Food and beverage service would be part of the casino offering, but alcohol on the gaming floor would not be permitted. A special liquor license for casinos would need to be developed to allow 24-hour service.
On the subject of large-scale resort casinos, the report suggests that Ireland is too small to support a Las Vegas-style development with multiple resort casinos in a single locale. A resort casino would conceivably have 1,000 to 1,500 gaming machines plus gaming tables and non-gaming amenities.
The selection of an operator and licensing arrangements would be managed by an independent Casino Adjudication Panel within the Department of Justice and Law Reform.
The operator would pay an annual licensing fee based on the number of tables and machines. For illustration the report uses €500 per gaming machine and €1,000 per table.
No specific recommendation is made on taxation, as that is up to the Department of Finance. However, the report posits a two-tier system, whereby the federal government would collect a tax based on gross gaming revenue and local authorities would receive tax based on the number of visitors (for example, €2 a head).
A new categorization for gaming machines is recommended, similar to that in use in the U.K.
In the area of betting shops, fixed-odds betting terminals should remain out, but betting on virtual sporting events should be allowed to continue.
For remote gambling, which includes gaming via internet, mobile phone, land-line phone, interactive TV or any other format where the player and provider are not in each other’s physical presence, the report cites an earlier study titled “Regulating Gaming in Ireland.”
That study described efforts to censor the internet as “frequently self-defeating,” “unlikely to achieve the intended results,” and often leading to “unintended and undesirable consequences.”