I am a bit surprised that this amendment has been proposed. I do not recall the amendment being proposed or even discussed on Committee Stage. Normally it would be raised on Committee Stage and would then be debated on Report Stage. I am a bit perplexed by that.
I recall some discussion, not all of it approving, of the fact that gambling is increasingly moving online from traditional land-based manifestations. This brings significant regulatory challenges that must be addressed in our proposed major reform. This is not a minor matter, as colleagues will surely agree. It is a major issue. We are talking about establishing a totally independent regulator, as has been done in other jurisdictions, not an office in the Department of Justice and Equality. That regulator could employ up to 120 people with various skills and would cost a large amount of money to establish. This is serious business. The legislation to make it happen, on which we are working at the moment, is quite complex. However, we can all appreciate that Senators in 1956 would not have foreseen the advent of the Internet - television was then in its infancy - or the provision of gaming services by remote means.
The gaming envisaged was local in nature and taking place in carnivals, shows, circuses and so on, and through local lotteries and bingo. Licensed gaming by machines was provided under certain conditions in amusement halls for minimal stakes and prizes. One of the provisions of the Bill is to increase those amounts to more sensible levels. I am not, however, providing for a radical move away from the architecture of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. As I stated on Second and Committee Stages, the Bill seeks to address certain deficiencies with regard to the conduct of gaming and lottery activities, currently comprehended by and regulated under the 1956 Act.
The Bill proposes a number of interim reform measures for the licensing and regulation of gaming and lottery activities concerned by the 1956 Act, pending the development of comprehensive reform of gambling laws.
There is no proposal in this Bill to repeal sections 12 and 13 to end local authority involvement in passing resolutions to permit gaming in their area. That is not here even though I note that some Senators would like to include it. I am, however, not proposing that.
Senators will note the recommendations contained in the Report of the Working Group on the Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling, approved by Government on 20 March of this year, would transfer all future responsibility for licensing of all forms of gaming to a new gambling regulatory authority. At that time, and with new regulations in place, the involvement of the local authorities and other bodies currently concerned would cease. That is what we will bring forward in the future, but that is not here now.