asked the Minister for Justice if the Garda will investigate an amusement arcade (details supplied) in Dublin 1 where pay-outs are made above the legal limits on a large scale on a daily basis; if appropriate action will be taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin Amusement Arcade.
It is not the practice for Ministers for Justice, unless there are exceptional circumstances indicating otherwise, to disclose whether or not a particular individual or establishment is the subject of a Garda investigation.
I am disappointed with the Minister's reply, particularly in view of the fact that this establishment is around the corner from Store Street Garda station. It is a scandal that the owner continues to evade the legal restrictions on gambling. Is the Minister concerned about the reports from social workers and people involved in child care in the area that many teenagers involved in local social employment schemes are spending all their earnings in this establishment in Talbot Street and that other teenagers are inevitably being lead into crime such as muggings and so on to get money for the slot machines in this arcade? Can he not at least give a commitment here that some determined effort will be made to uncover the mechanism that is being used by this individual to evade the restrictions and to see that justice is done and that this individual is dealt with before the courts?
I should make clear that during last year 127 breaches of the Act were detected and evidence was produced in those cases. The provisional number of detections up to the end of September this year is 393. I mention that figure to let the Deputy see that in general action is taken. The Deputy can be assured that the necessary actions are taken by the gardaí in relation to any case which is reported to them and they are prepared to use every method at their disposal to obtain the necessary proofs.
Is the Minister aware that in this case, while the legal payout limits are marked clearly on each machine to give the impression that the establishment is run within the law, the system of credits which is marked up on each machine is used to gain pay-outs from the cash box which are made directly to the local youths who use the arcade? When strangers or people whom the proprietor is not certain are his usual clientéle appear this system is not used. In view of the fact that under-cover plain clothes gardaí are used regularly in the immediate area to deal with women selling flowers and jewellery from prams, could the Minister not ensure that some of these gardaí are diverted to deal with what I would consider to be a more pressing social problem in that area?
The Deputy is extending the scope of this question.
That is difficult when we are dealing with a particular case and hence the approach of the Minister in the reply. If the Deputy reads my reply he will see that I have answered his question already. He has also mentioned the difficulty that arises. He said that in cases like this if people know their usual clients and can identify other people no matter who they may be a difficulty may arise. I would like to assure the Deputy that every method at the disposal of the Garda is, and will be, used in any cases that are reported and he can have confidence in that.
I would like to ask the Minister if regular spot checks are made on all these arcades around the city of Dublin. It is my information that many of them are in breach of the law. A great many young people are concerned about other young people who are falling prey to this kind of temptation. Could I ask the Minister if regular spot checks are made and if a report is made on a particular case, will that be checked up not only immediately following the report but on a continuing basis?
The question refers to a particular arcade.
Yes, spot checks are carried out but I cannot give the exact frequency. As regards the question of the reports, they are pursued very actively, particularly in current times.