I am happy to update the Deputy on developments concerning the reform of our laws on the licensing and regulation of gaming and gambling activities.
Following the Government's approval and publication in July 2013, the general scheme of the gambling control Bill was referred to the then Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, which I chaired, for consideration and observations. When joint committee's report on the general scheme was laid before the Houses in November 2013, the matter was with the Office of the Attorney General for consideration and drafting until late 2017. At that point, my Department and I sought the Government's permission to review the draft legislation to take into account technological and other changes that had occurred in the interim.
The Government duly granted permission to review the 2013 general scheme by way of decision of 10 January 2018, aimed at establishing an independent regulatory authority for the gambling industry in Ireland.
To advance the review of the 2013 general scheme of the Gambling Control Bill, per the Government decision of 10 January 2018, I chaired an interdepartmental working group on gambling, comprising all stakeholder Departments and the Office of the Attorney General. The group met on five occasions between February and June of this year and reviewed all the provisions of the 2013 scheme as well as other relevant developments since. Further, the group in its deliberations had regard to the Government's preference for the establishment of an independent regulatory authority. It is the Government's view that an independent body would be best placed to conduct the significant and complex range of licensing, regulatory, monitoring, inspection and enforcement tasks of the industry in all its manifestations. The group is currently finalising its report, which I hope to bring to Government for consideration as soon as possible.
I would also like to take the opportunity to update the Deputy on the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill, which is currently being drafted by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. It is based on Part 13 of the Civil Law and Courts (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 approved for publication by the Government. The amendments proposed under this Bill address certain deficiencies with regard to the conduct of activities regulated under the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, and provide for the modernisation of that Act by way of, among other matters, updating stake and prize limits and standardising the minimum gambling and betting age to 18. Further, it is intended that this Bill will provide greater clarity and certainty for all promoters and participants involved, primarily in local fundraising efforts, and to ensure the best conduct in the promotion of such activities. It is hoped this Bill will be published before the end of the current Oireachtas session.