A report came this week that the Irish Government has approved the General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill 2013 proposed by Alan Shatter, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, which will now be drafted, focusing on effectively modernizing the regulation of the Irish gambling sector, and introduce measures to protect vulnerable adults and young people.
According to Shatter, this bill will update the law in this domain in a way that will offer a comprehensive new licensing and regulatory framework for gambling. He said: "I believe that this Bill will give Ireland a well regulated gambling system that will be recognised as such internationally."
It has been specified that the draft bill proposes to:
- repeal and replace existing means for regulation of betting, gaming, bingo and lotteries, with the exception of the National Lottery;
- establish a new self-financing executive agency that will have two purposes: act as the licensing authority and regulator for the sector.
- extend the licensing regime so that it encompasses online and electronic gambling;
- require operators providing gambling services across all platforms to be licensed under the Irish regulatory system;
- introduce measures for checking the suitability of all licensed operators, including close liaison with the Gardaí, checks on criminal records and arrangements for contacting regulators and law enforcement bodies abroad.
- set up requirements for operators to maintain adequate financial reserves to cover customer entitlements.
- introduce a range of new measures, including: age restrictions; staff training; advertising, promotion and sponsorship controls; a new customer complaints procedure; a new Social Gambling Fund for assistance in treatment services; and new procedures that will assist consumers seeking compensation from a license holder.
- limit the number of casinos to 40, with no more than 15 tables in each.
- include a full ban on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.
Discussing these provisions, Shatter added: "I expect the gambling sector to commit itself in a meaningful way to the concept and practice of socially responsible gambling. 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.
"Technological change more than any other factor has accounted for the expansion in gambling in recent years. I will ensure that the new law will have the flexibility necessary to deal with rapid and continuous innovation, in the public interest. The Bill will, for example, include powers to prohibit or restrict certain games or equipment if they are harmful, including devices and games that are not yet in use.”