Betting (Amendment) Bill 2013: Report and Final Stages

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 15, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:

“(c) the holder of the certificate failed to take adequate steps to prevent persons under the age of 18 undertaking betting transactions.”.

This issue was discussed on Committee Stage. While I did not press the amendment then, I feel it is important to highlight the issue of under age betting again. This amendment proposes to add the failure to take adequate steps to prevent persons under the age of 18 undertaking betting transactions as a reason for excluding a person from holding a bookmaker’s certificate.

The reason I put down this amendment is to highlight the fact we have a growing problem with young people engaging in gambling, whether it is going into betting shops, highlighted explicitly in a recent "Prime Time" exposé, and online gambling. It is easy for a 16 or 17 year old to tick the over-18 box when registering an online betting account and engaging in gambling. We all know the problems that fall from that. A recent European Commission paper stated young people have increasing exposure to such sites with 6% of 14 to 17 year olds gambling online. On Committee Stage, the Minister stated it is implicit in the Bill that a certificate can be revoked if the holder of the licence is not dealing with the issue adequately. I would like to make it explicit and I hope the Minister will agree to this amendment.

The principal Act provides that it is an offence to make a bet or enter into a betting transaction with a person under the age of 18 years. The Bill, as published, provides that the Minister for Justice and Equality may revoke a certificate of personal fitness where he is satisfied that, among other reasons, the holder of the certificate is not a fit and proper person to hold a bookmaker’s, a remote bookmaker’s or a remote betting intermediary’s licence. The Bill, as published, further provides that a relevant consideration in the refusal to issue or the revocation of a certificate of personal fitness, arises where the applicant or body corporate stands convicted of an offence under certain Acts of the Oireachtas, including the Betting Acts.

Accordingly, the Minister agrees that the protection of minors is a fundamental principle of the legislation and is satisfied that this is already provided for through the provisions under the existing legislation and in the Bill as published.

I thank the Minister of State for his reply. I take his point that the protection of minors is implicit in the Bill. However, I would like it to be more explicit. Gambling is a serious problem. We know from the "Prime Time" exposé, for example, that it is all too easy for a 16-year old or 17-year old to place a bet in a bookmaker's shop. The controls do not seem to be adequate. Given the proficiency of young people in the online world it is all too easy for someone to open an account, engage in gambling and build up what is in many cases a bad habit for life.

I will not press the amendment but I wish to highlight the issue. I hope the provisions in the Bill will be interpreted to include underage gambling. If a bookie is not dealing with the issue adequately and is found to have not implemented the law properly, his or her licence should be revoked. It is important that we send out a very strong signal that under age gambling is not acceptable and will be dealt with.

I do not wish to repeat myself, but I wish to make it clear that is the intention in the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 18, line 40, to delete “€250,000” and substitute “€1,000,000”.

I have discussed the amendments with officials from the Department of Finance and I am satisfied with the reply for now, so I will not press the amendments.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 41, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:

“38. Section 32 of the Principal Act is repealed.”.

We discussed the matter on Committee Stage and I tabled a number of parliamentary questions on it. The background to the situation is that someone was explaining to me the outdated legislation that surrounds gambling. The person furnished my office with a picture of An Taoiseach in a Paddy Power's shop in Mayo. He was holding a sign showing the odds for the all-Ireland final between Donegal and Mayo. The individual who sent me the picture asked whether I knew that under section 32 of the 1931 Betting Act that the Taoiseach was involved in illegal activity. Perhaps the Taoiseach was not implicated but bookies certainly were because it is illegal in this jurisdiction to advertise the odds of any football match in the State. It is also illegal for a publication produced for sale or distribution outside a betting shop to advertise the odds for football matches in the State. That took me by surprise. The incident coincided with the debate on Paddy Power offering odds on whether Oscar Pistorius would be found guilty of the murder of a South African citizen. The situation highlights how our laws have been defined. In 1931 we thought it was a terrible thing for a newspaper or advertisement to hang outside a shop referring to the bookmaker's odds for a local football derby, yet we believe that the odds of somebody charged with murder being sentenced to life imprisonment should be allowed to be advertised in national newspapers and other places.

The amendment proposes the deletion of section 32, which prohibits the advertisement of betting on football games. I listened to what the Minister of State said about the gambling control Bill. We must remember that the gambling control Bill was supposed to be introduced in tandem with the Betting (Amendment) Bill, which is nearly three years in the making. We now know that the betting control Bill will be published next year but political circumstances may dictate that something else will overtake it. Issues arose in the Department of Justice and Equality relating to the Garda Commissioner, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, whistleblowers and penalty points which stalled legislation. Let us delete section 32 or present an argument for why the Minister thinks the Garda should be called if the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, or any other Taoiseach or bookmaker, decides to advertise the odds of Manchester United versus Chelsea or Donegal versus Dublin in the all-Ireland final, or on any other football match taking place in the State.

Section 32 of the Betting Act 1931 deals with the prohibition of advertising relating to betting on football games and provides that, other than in the case of the distribution of advertising by the registered proprietor of a registered premises in such premises, "it shall not be lawful for any person to write, print, publish or knowingly circulate any advertisement, circular or coupon advocating or inviting or otherwise relating to betting on football games or knowingly to cause or procure, or attempt to cause or procure, any such advertisement, circular or coupon to be written, printed, published or circulated". An examination of the Dáil debates at the time of the passing of the Bill in 1931 appears to suggest that the term "football" applies to both Gaelic football and soccer.

The Deputy will be aware that it has always been the intention that this Bill is an interim measure, to put a regulatory system in place for the remote sector pending the enactment of the gambling control Bill. However, the Minister agrees that this provision should be removed from the Statute Book and if the Deputy will withdraw his amendment, the Minister will bring forward an amendment to address the issue in the Seanad.

I thank the Minister of State for his response. I am pleased the amendment has been accepted. I will withdraw my version of the amendment based on the fact that the Minister will introduce one in the Seanad.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 41, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:

“39. The Minister shall, within 3 months of the enactment of this Act, lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report on measures that will be undertaken to protect vulnerable people from engaging in harmful gambling and the manner in which remote betting intermediaries must assist in this.”.

It is deeply regrettable that we are not taking the gambling control Bill in parallel with the Betting (Amendment) Bill because we are all well aware of the harmful effects of gambling. For many people, unfortunately, it does become an addiction and it can destroy lives and families. The European Commission paper which was published this week flew a warning flag in pointing out that up to 3% of the population are problem gamblers or in danger of developing an addiction. It is critically important that the gambling control Bill be introduced. At a minimum I seek a commitment from the Minister of State that the Bill will be introduced in the House as quickly as possible.

The amendment seeks a report on measures that will be undertaken to protect vulnerable people from engaging in harmful gambling and the manner in which remote betting intermediaries must assist in that regard. There is no doubt it is a growing problem in society and it must be dealt with. We must have certain restrictions in place to prevent the problem getting worse, especially for young people. I look forward to the response of the Minister of State.

The Betting (Amendment) Bill is an interim measure, pending the enactment of the gambling control Bill, which is due to be published in early 2015. One of the fundamental principles underpinning the gambling control Bill is the protection of minors and other vulnerable persons. That Bill will make clear the responsibilities of licensed operators when it comes to ensuring to that these persons are not permitted to access gambling services. The Minister for Justice and Equality will be responsible for the monitoring of the activities of operators in this regard. Accordingly, I do not propose to accept the amendment.

I thank the Minister of State. I welcome the fact that the gambling control Bill will be published early next year, although I would like to see it earlier than that.

The reality is, by virtue of this legislation, the State will get more revenue from the betting industry and some of that should be used to deal with problems arising from harmful gambling. I hope the Minister of State can impress upon his officials the need to bring forward that Bill as quickly as possible, ideally before the end of 2014, as that would be a good day's work that all sides of the House would support.

The gambling control Bill is the legislation best suited to dealing with this issue and I am frustrated by its delay. However, it is appropriate that there should be a report on gambling addiction and those susceptible to it, given that the Betting (Amendment) Bill will be enacted shortly. I repeat the point I made on Committee Stage to the effect that it is wrong to see gambling only as something involving Boylesports, Paddy Power and other high street betting shops and intermediate bookmakers. Gambling also involves the State as it encourages and facilitates people to gamble through the national lottery. People gamble every day on the national lottery and spend a great deal on scratch cards that some people find very addictive, which is another area of concern. It is important that there be a report to feed into the gambling control Bill but it is also important that the State understands that it is a beneficiary of gambling, not only through VAT reaped from high street bookies and intermediate bookmakers but directly through the national lottery.

I am not suggesting the State should try to stop people playing lotto, daily millions or scratch cards but the State must face its responsibilities by understanding that not everyone who plays lotto or buys scratch cards can afford to do so. Some people are chasing a dream they will never realise, some cannot afford this gambling and some have an addiction. I know of cases where people wait for the weekend to spend much of their wages on scratch cards. Those that profit most from this industry should foot the bill but I understand that bookmakers are the only ones that fund gambling addiction services in the State, though I am open to correction. It is equally important that the State recognises its role in facilitating gambling. As I said before, I have placed many bets on sports, horses, roulette, casino tables and so on and this can be enjoyable but many people are addicted and need help. It is important that all involved in profiting from, encouraging or facilitating gambling are held accountable for the consequences.

The gambling control Bill will be before the House early next year and I will pass on to officials Deputy Michael McGrath's desire to see it here earlier. This might happen. The issues raised by Deputy Doherty can be discussed when the Bill is before the House.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 6 arises from committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 are logical alternatives and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 41, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:

“39. The Minister shall, within 3 months of the enactment of this Act, lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report on the VAT treatment of gaming transactions which are conducted with licensed bookmakers, including where the bookmaker operates as a remote intermediary.”.

This issue, relating to VAT on gambling, has been pursued by Deputy Doherty for some time through parliamentary questions and he raised it on Committee Stage. I want to put my own concerns on the record, given the advice I have received from the Department on this issue. I have taken the opportunity since Committee Stage to examine this area and I am concerned that the State may be accruing a contingent liability. Will the Minister of State put on the record the advice he has received in this regard? The matter has been pursued by Deputy Doherty a number of times and it may be a significant issue that must be addressed.

I am glad that Deputy Michael McGrath tabled his amendment. We seek a report within three months on the VAT treatment of bookmakers, remote bookmakers and remote intermediate bookmakers. This arises from a legacy issue and I have been trying to deal with it for over a year. I am frustrated by the responses I have received. Bookmakers are exempt from VAT if they pay betting duty and this is acceptable - nobody is suggesting they should also pay VAT. However, remote bookies and intermediate bookmakers have not been paying betting duty and therefore are liable for VAT. A different set of rules says that if a company is not established in Ireland but is based in the EU it is exempt from VAT so this rules out a number of bookmaker intermediates. Some of these companies are operating from Gibraltar and, for the purposes of the EU VAT directive, that is not deemed part of the EU.

It is clear these intermediate bookmakers are providing a service to which VAT should apply but the question is whether they are exempt. They would be exempt if they paid betting duty but they do not. They could also be exempt if they were established outside the State and within the EU but Gibraltar is not deemed part of the EU for VAT purposes. It seems they should, therefore, be liable for VAT in Ireland for services provided here. This is a serious matter because intermediate bookmakers have been allowed to operate in the State without licence, without paying betting duty and without paying VAT on services provided.

It is estimated the annual turnover from offshore online and telephone gambling in Ireland is €1.7 billion per annum and it would be interesting to see how much of this went to companies established in Gibraltar. From my understanding, such companies should pay VAT in Ireland for the reasons I have outlined. I am deeply frustrated by this but want the Minister of State to correct me, if possible, with specific details. This matter has been teased out through parliamentary questions for some time and it has not been resolved.

Section 34 (1) of the Value-Added Tax Consolidation Act 2010 says the supply of electronic services is provided by remote or intermediate bookmakers. The Act says that when the supply of electronic services is to a non-taxable person in the State, in this case the punter, by taxable persons whose business is outside the European Community, in this case offshore operators, the VAT arises in Ireland. I have serious concerns that intermediate bookmakers established in Gibraltar that provide electronically supplied services to non-taxable persons in this State are not paying the VAT for which they are liable. This has been going on for years and the relevant turnover is €1.7 billion per annum. Not all of this €1.7 billion is liable for VAT because some of it relates to companies established in jurisdictions that are VAT-exempt under EU rules but Gibraltar is not such a jurisdiction. I seek a report on this or an investigation because this matter requires something more than a paragraph or two in reply to a parliamentary question. We will be dealing with this for years if it is not addressed properly.

This is a genuine attempt to see whether the laws have not been applied in the right fashion. At yesterday's meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, I raised the issue of a housing association which provides security alarms for elderly vulnerable people in their homes. If one presses the alarm, somebody answers the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It has written to all of its customers in the Twenty-six Counties to state it thought it was exempt from VAT for the services it supplies but has been told by Revenue it is not and from now on it must charge an extra 23% on the cost of the service. This service is provided to very vulnerable, mostly elderly, people living in rural communities. I have been contacted by some of them stating they cannot believe it is happening. Their telephone allowance was cut and now they face a 23% increase in the cost of this service because of VAT.

My point is this happens all the time. Revenue carries out an inspection and states a 23% VAT rate should have been applied to a service and that this must be rectified. It is estimated the offshore turnover of remote intermediate betting is €1.7 billion per annum. At least it should be given the same treatment as elderly vulnerable people in remote areas, and we should ensure they have personal intruder alarms. We should investigate whether those involved in remote intermediate betting were liable to pay the VAT rate at the time and furnish a report which spells out in black and white that they were. We should examine all of the legislation I have quoted. This is my best estimation from reading the various Acts. We know this intertwines with European directives and our national laws on taxation. It is a complex area, but I am not satisfied that they were excluded from VAT in the first place.

The Deputy should be aware that the EU VAT directive provides for an exemption for betting, lotteries and other forms of gambling subject to conditions and limitations laid down by each member state. In Ireland, the Value-Added Tax Consolidation Act provides that bets placed with bookmakers or on the tote are exempt from VAT. European Court of Justice jurisprudence has confirmed the principle of VAT fiscal neutrality for gambling, namely, that the exemption applies regardless of the medium through with the bet is placed once the services provided are identical or similar from the perspective of the consumer and meet the same needs of the consumer. This means that electronically-supplied gambling services that are identical or similar from the perspective of the consumer to those services provided by traditional bookmakers, which are those subject to betting duty, also benefit from the VAT exemption. Remote bookmakers and remote betting intermediaries will continue to be exempt from VAT following the enactment of the Bill. Accordingly, I do not propose to accept these amendments.

We are going into a minefield. This goes to the definition of what remote intermediaries do. The Minister of State mentioned that the Value-Added Tax Consolidation Act 2010 provides that the acceptance of bets subject to betting duty is exempt from VAT. The question is whether remote intermediate providers accept bets, and the argument is they do not. A bookie accepts bets, but intermediate bookmakers provide a service whereby one person places a bet and another person lays it. It is a service and they themselves do not accept the bets. They cannot accept the bets; there must be somebody else to do so. They provide a service to join up people. This is the service provided by BETDAQ and Betfair. If someone wants to place a bet on a horse running in Fairyhouse, BETDAQ will not accept the bet unless somebody else is willing to lay it. All Betfair and BETDAQ do is provide a service where two people can join up. The question which goes to the core of this is whether these companies accept bets and therefore whether they are exempt from VAT.

One must remember that these creatures, and I do not say remote intermediaries are bad or we should be against them, were not envisaged when these laws were being drawn up. They are new entities and new ways of providing gambling. They are outside what was thought of when we were dealing with this. They have found ways and loopholes. I suggest that at a minimum there should be an investigation about all of the concerns which have raised for a substantial period of time and it should be in the form of a report, however long it takes. At least the Department needs to take more notice because, with respect, the responses given by the Minister of State are very similar to the responses I have received for the past year and I am still not satisfied we have dealt adequately with the issue.

I am sorry the Deputy is not happy with the responses he has received but, as he stated, we are dealing with a new ball game particularly with regard to VAT. If it is okay with the Deputy, I suggest Revenue officials deal with some of the Deputy's queries and this might be helpful in solving some of the issues. It is not possible for me to get into the exact details.

I appreciate that.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.

Amendment No. 8 arises out of committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 41, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:

"39. The Minister shall, within 3 months of the passing of this Act, present to the Houses of the Oireachtas a report on his or her future plans for betting duty and the funding of the horse racing and greyhound racing industries and his or her plans for taxation of other areas of gambling.".

I welcome the passage of the legislation, which will take place in the House in a couple of minutes. It will bring additional revenue to the State, which will help next year's budget and offset measures which may have been necessary if this revenue was not available to the State. It will be approximately €20 million per annum. It is deplorable that this was not done when the Government took office and that we have waited for so long to apply this duty to online and remote bookmakers. It will not cost them a fortune and they will not lose any sleep over it. One must consider the effect an amount less than €20 million had on discretionary medical cards and children with disabilities, whom we discussed yesterday. We are dealing with only a fraction of the amount involved. Much pain and suffering has been inflicted on the people as a result of various measures. This measure is relatively painless and should have been introduced many years ago.

I point this out because while the Bill is welcome, it is only a drop in the ocean. We need to go further than this. The betting duty needs to be increased to an appropriate amount, which I believe is 3%. As amendment No. 9 states, the betting duty should be placed on the customer and not the operator. High street bookies are closing down because they cannot afford their overheads or betting duty of 1%. I have spoken to independent bookmakers who have told me they are in engagements and arrangements with the Revenue Commissioners to pay the 1% betting duty. They have already closed some of their operations because they are trying to restructure and downsize. If the betting duty were increased to 3% and charged on them, it would put the majority of them out of business, but if it were charged on the customer, as it always used to be in the State, it would not only ensure they remained open but would mean they would grow because their profits would increase overnight.

One person told me that the shops he closed he could reopen if the betting duty were passed on to the customer. In my view the bigger operators will be able to absorb a betting duty of 2% and will force the smaller operators to do the same, but they will not be able to carry that weight. I believe the bigger operators would not be able to carry 3% themselves and would be forced to pass it on to the customer, which would provide a level playing field.

Amendment No. 9 deals with a report on the funding of the horse and greyhound industries. There is a serious question over that. Will the horse and greyhound industries be funded to the appropriate level? Will the money from the betting duty be ring-fenced for that purpose or will it just go into the general pot? Will there continue to be a reduction to the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund as we have seen in recent years? Can we give some certainty to the industry that employs thousands of people and brings in a large amount of foreign currency to the country? Can we support that and give it some sort of stability? With this legislation coming forward, questions remain to be answered.

There is also a bigger issue, which is that the other areas of gambling are not being taxed. The Bill is called the Betting (Amendment) Bill, but it only places a tax on the sports books of the bookies; the other books are not taxed. Those going onto the Paddy Power website, as I have done in the past, go into the card games, including Texas Hold 'Em, poker and the tournaments, which is where much of the money is generated. Also no taxes are being levied on any of the casino games such as roulette which are very profitable. The sports book represents a smaller part of the overall book.

While we are making progress with this legislation we need to remember we are taxing online bookies on sports - horseracing, greyhound racing, football and so forth - but we are not taxing the other parts of the industry which are very profitable. I believe this is relatively painless. Any punter who bets €10 on a roulette table and wins €100 will be willing to pay 3% on the profits. They would be willing to do that if they won €100 on the horses, but they are also willing to do it if they win it at a card game, such as blackjack, a roulette table or whatever. It is important that we get our act together and place an appropriate levy that is capable of sustaining the industry. Revenues should be brought into the State that will offset measures that may have to be taken in other areas.

I believe this is a no-brainer. I welcome that we are moving three years on to apply this tax. However, we should increase the rate and ask the punter to pay the tax because it is the only vice that goes untaxed. On everything else people pay tax. On this one a punter does not pay tax. The revenue that could be generated for the State from taxing the other books within the gambling sector would be quite substantial. The Government needs to start working as soon as possible on a more comprehensive Bill to deal with those other areas that have remained untouched by the betting duty.

With regard to amendment No. 8, while there has traditionally been a link between revenues accruing from betting taxes and the allocation to the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund, there is no hypothecation of these revenues. All receipts from betting will go to the Exchequer. The funding of the horse and greyhound industries is primarily a matter for discussion between the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in the context of the annual Estimates campaign.

Having said that, the Minister, Deputy Noonan, is on the record as stating that any increase in revenues as a result of these measures will allow the Government to provide additional funding in certain areas including the horse and greyhound industries. However, I reiterate, the question of funding these industries is a matter in the first place for the Ministers concerned.

With regard to amendment No. 9, the Minister has consistently said that his priority is to extend the existing system to the remote sector so that all betting activity is included in the tax net. Once a level playing field is in place, all other options relating to the rate and type of tax can be explored. It is the Minister’s intention that all the options available in this regard, including the taxation of other forms of gambling, will be fully explored.

Accordingly, I do not propose to accept these amendments.

I welcome the latter part of what the Minister of State has said, which is that all other forms of gambling will be explored because we are missing out on tens of millions of euro to the Exchequer because we do not tax this. Last night we had a debate over less than €2 million for the disability sector and yet multiples of that have gone untaxed in the gambling area. It defies logic that we are not looking at this. The Minister said that he would look at other areas and the rates last year. How long do we need to wait? In the meantime we have cut disability services and taken away discretionary medical cards. We are preparing for another budget that I am sure will have impacts on the least well off, the most vulnerable in society. How long are we going to wait?

While I support the Bill and I support the Minister of State's comments, I am frustrated at the delay and lack of commitment. Stronger sentiment should be expressed at the passage of this Bill that the rate will increase and that we will extend this to all forms of gambling, particularly the areas I have mentioned. Any online gambling operation has the sports book, the casino book and the card games. Those are basically the three areas and we are only taxing one of them. There should be more of a commitment and a timeframe. My amendment is trying to impress on the Government the urgency in this regard.

The Government did not hesitate to introduce property tax and then double the charge for property tax. It did not hesitate to introduce water charges. It did not hesitate to increase VAT to 23%. It did not hesitate to increase excise duty on alcohol and cigarettes. It did not hesitate to increase prescription charges or increase the threshold for the drugs repayment scheme. However, when it comes to these other sectors, which are relatively painless and could bring in millions of euro to the Exchequer, we have nothing but hesitation, soft words and a lack of commitment.

It is important to level the playing field and all sectors need to be sorted out. The enactment of the Bill will help in levelling the playing field.

Regarding the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund, we should not underestimate the value of horseracing, HRI and Bord na gCon to rural economies. There has been considerable action in respect of Bord na gCon in recent weeks and it has been dealt with. There are a large number of jobs in remote rural areas. A big operation in my constituency of Tipperary employs well over 1,000 people. We should never forget that applies to all rural constituencies. The downstream jobs provide a huge benefit to the economy. Some of us living in rural areas understand that. However, some people do not understand the impact of that industry and the benefit it provides to our country.

Consequently, I hope that with the enactment of this legislation and with more funding available - the Minister, Deputy Noonan, has given that commitment and I hope it will happen - jobs will be protected. Ultimately, this is about the protection of jobs and the creation of jobs in rural areas. There is potential revenue to come in from across the water and from all over the world, because Ireland has a top-class product and its dogs and horses are recognised worldwide. This is an industry to which insufficient attention has been paid in the past and if it is looked after properly, it has real potential.

The point about the horse and greyhound industries and rural constituencies goes without saying. All Members are aware of the economic benefits, have seen the reports and so on. This issue is wider than that and is about trying to get the Government to live up to its stated intention and to give at least some indication as to when Members are likely to have sight of legislation or a report of some kind on examining the issue of extending betting duty to other forms of gambling that I already have mentioned, as well as examining the rate. I do not expect the Minister of State to amend this Bill and increase the rate to 3% or to start over again by applying it to casinos, cards and so on. However, I do expect some kind of commitment stating that given that this legislation will be implemented, the Government expects to start that work now. Members need something because this matter has already taken too long to come to the table. The Minister of State should at least give Members a commitment on the timeframe within which they can begin to examine these issues.

Increasing the rates is a budgetary issue that can be dealt with. I will relay the Deputy's concerns to the Minister. As the points he makes are quite relevant, hopefully the Government will get to them in the future.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 41, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:

“39. The Minister shall, within 3 months of the passing of this Act, present to the Houses of the Oireachtas a report on the financial implications of charging betting duty as a tax to be paid by the customer or as a tax paid by the bookmaker.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Bill received for final consideration and passed.
Sitting suspended at 11.55 a.m. and resumed at 12 noon.