I propose to take Questions Nos. 285 to 287, inclusive, together.
The Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 and the Betting Act 1931 set out the current legal framework for the operation of gambling or betting operations. It is an offence under section 4 of the 1956 Act to promote or assist in the promotion of any kind of gaming or to provide facilities for any kind of gaming. Separately, it is an offence to operate as a bookmaker, or carry on business of a bookmaker, without a licence under the 1931 Act.
Within that legal framework Enterprise Ireland (EI) is precluded from supporting companies that operate in the gambling sector, which includes all companies that earn their revenues from online betting, betting exchange, gambling, competitive social gaming and tipping markets. EI can provide limited support to Financial Spread-Betting Companies (FSB)/ Contracts for Difference (CFD) providers, only if these companies are regulated by a Financial Services Regulatory Authority. EI does support companies that earn revenue from supplying products or services to companies in the gambling sector (provided the earnings are not directly linked to amounts gambled).
It is anticipated that two legislative proposals will significantly change the legislative and regulatory landscape. The Deputy will be aware that, in July 2012, the Minster for Finance published the Betting (Amendment) Bill 2012 which is designed to ensure a fair and equal treatment of all bookmakers and betting exchanges offering services in Ireland and will bring into the licensing and taxation regime all remote bookmakers and betting intermediaries (betting exchanges). The Minister for Justice and Equality has also announced plans to bring Heads of a Bill, provisionally entitled the Gambling Control Bill, to Government soon. The ‘Gambling Control Bill’ is envisaged to be a comprehensive measure, establishing a transparent regulatory regime to cover betting and gaming, whether by terrestrial or remote means and will include gambling on virtual and actual events.
I am very aware that innovation is a key feature of the gaming, betting and gambling industry; new forms are constantly emerging such as betting exchanges, which permit people to bet amongst themselves, without the need for a bookmaker. Obviously, my Department will review, in conjunction with EI, the current policy on supporting companies that operate in the gambling sector when the above two proposed pieces of legislation have been enacted.