Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (426)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

426. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding online betting companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2710/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Programme for Government gives a clear commitment to establish a gambling regulator focused on public safety and well-being, covering gambling online and in person, and the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.

The only current legislation providing for online gambling is contained in the Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 which permits the licensing by the Revenue Commissioners of remote bookmakers and betting exchanges. The role of my Department is limited to the processing of certificates of fitness for applicants for such licences.

While a General Scheme of a Gambling Control Bill was published in 2013, a considerable amount of further work has been done in the meantime. The Inter-Departmental Working Group on Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling reported in 2018 and a European Commission funded report on the structure of a Gambling Regulator was produced in late 2019. The task now is to bring all three elements together, and having regard to the on-going evolution of the gambling industry, into one coherent Scheme of a Bill that will deliver on the Programme for Government commitment.

Given the size, complexity and technological development of the modern gambling industry and having regard to the current outdated and complex arrangements, it will be important that the regulator will be established on a sound footing and be adequately resourced to carry out this important task.

I expect to be in a position to publish the Scheme of the Bill during 2021 and will seek Government approval for the drafting of the Bill on that basis.