Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Questions (379)

Peter Mathews


379. Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he intends to bring forward legislation on the regualtion of the casino sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11191/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I announced in September 2011 that the Government had agreed to my proposal to replace the current legislation on gambling with new statutory arrangements for licensing, compliance and enforcement. My Department has, meanwhile, being preparing Heads of a new Bill, provisionally entitled the Gambling Control Bill, and I am pleased to tell the Deputy that I hope to bring those Heads to the Government soon for approval and for authorisation to have a Bill formally drafted. It is my intention, subject to the agreement of the Government, to publish the Heads on my Department's website following their approval by the Government and while formal drafting is underway.

On the specific question about the regulation of casinos, the Government agreed that the new legislation should provide for the licensing of modest sized casinos: it decided against permitting the larger 'resort' style casinos. The new Gambling Control Bill will therefore include arrangements for the licensing and operation of casinos. It is my intention that the new Bill should establish a comprehensive inspection and compliance regime. The Bill will indicate the maximum number to be permitted as well as determining the maximum permitted size.

The Deputy is, no doubt, aware that, currently, casino gaming is prohibited by section 4(1) of the Gaming & Lotteries Act 1956, as amended. As a result, casinos cannot be licensed. Nevertheless, there are numerous 'private members clubs' offering, in effect, casino gaming. Prosecutions for breaches of section 4(1) have been brought but have been unsuccessful. The 'clubs' therefore continue to exploit ambiguities in the present law but the new Bill will address these and other matters that have come to light. Following its enactment, only casinos holding a licence under the new law will be permitted. Although not licensed, the private members clubs are required by the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 to register with my Department's anti-money laundering compliance unit. That unit conducts inspections of these premises to assess compliance with the 2010 Act.