Interim Legislation to Update Outdated Gambling Laws
The Department of Justice and Equality has recognised the significant body of complex work required to progress the GCB and has indicated that, in the interim, a number of issues in need of urgent updating will be dealt with sooner by way of a separate piece of legislation, the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 (the 2017 Bill).
The 2017 Bill
The general scheme of the 2017 Bill was published in August 2017 and includes 42 sections proposing measures to update Ireland's outdated gaming legislation. The following are some of the amendments that are being proposed in the Heads of the 2017 Bill, the detailed provisions for which have not yet been published:
It will become an explicit offence to promote, assist in promoting, or providing facilities for gaming, lotteries or raffles, unless a permit or licence has been issued.
A new concept of a "raffle" is to be introduced. A raffle is not strictly defined in the Heads of the 2017 Bill but it is stated to include "all competitions where prizes of any or all of money, goods or services are distributed according to a draw that takes place after all participants have entered". There are three categories of raffle provided for in the Heads of the 2017 Bill as follows:
It is still possible to apply to the local police superintendent for a permit for a lottery for prizes of up to €5,000, and to the District Court for a licence for lotteries with prizes of up to €30,000. However, the circumstances in which lottery permits will be obtainable will be limited to "private lotteries", e.g. lotteries held at sports meetings, festivals, concerts and at licensed amusement halls and funfairs. Tickets for lotteries to be carried out under a permit or pursuant to a licence from the District Court can in future be made available for sale electronically.
The restriction on allowing gaming to take place on a licensed premises is removed and gaming is to be permitted in very limited circumstances and, subject to certain conditions, including that a police permit must be obtained.
Maximum Stake/ Prize Limit
The maximum stake and prize limits which operators can provide at licensed amusement halls and funfairs is to be increased to an individual stake of up to €10 and prize of up to €750.
A uniform minimum age limit for gambling is to be set at 18 years of age.
This draft legislation is just an early measure being introduced ahead of more comprehensive laws aimed at gambling control and increased regulation. However, it remains to be seen as to whether or not the proposed changes will bring increased clarity as to when and how gaming/lotteries/raffles may take place, or whether the requirement to pursue such applications at a local level, will lead to a greater inconsistency in the application of the legislation.
If you require advice in relation to any of the issues raised in this update, please contact a member of our Betting and Gaming Team.
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