Replacing various Irish gambling laws that currently regulate the industry with a single bill (not covering the National Lottery, though) is the government’s aim, as it submits the proposal to public debate.
Among the most important provisions of the draft is the explicit legalization and licensing of casinos, replacing the current system of “member-only clubs”. The plans include allowing 40 casinos to operate in the country, and existing clubs must also apply for one of those licenses.
No super-casinos are on the horizon, however, as the proposed law would cap the number of gaming tables at 15 per licensed venue. Since very few of the existing clubs actually exceed that number, but several come close to it, the bill is unlikely to cause big tremors among the existing brick-and-mortar gambling establishments.
Indeed, the government’s aim has been to proceed with caution and re-shape the legal framework, in order to increase legal clarity and fuel some modest growth in the industry, without resorting to any revolutionary measures.
Despite recent technological changes, much of the industry is still regulated by the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, which has been increasingly difficult to apply. The new law is expected to respond to modern challenges. “I will ensure that the new law will have the flexibility necessary to deal with rapid and continuous innovation, in the public interest,” said Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
The new bill will also include the licensing rules for online casinos in Ireland, which are already legal in the country.
It will also give the regulator the authority to ban certain games if they are deemed harmful, as well as to obtain a court order to block unlicensed online operators. Fixed-odds betting terminals will be banned straight from the start.
At the same time the law will ease the rules for organizing bingo games, allowing the licensing of commercial bingo halls in Ireland.