I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 to 186, inclusive, together.
I have been advised that the regulation of gambling is provided for under the Betting Act, 1931 and the Gaming and Lotteries Acts 1956, and is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Equality. Where there is legislative provision for the licensing of operators, the Revenue Commissioners issue licences in accordance with those provisions.
The Betting Act 1931, as amended, provides the legislative basis for licensing and control of Bookmakers, and in order to carry on the business of Bookmaking, an operator must hold a licence. Legislation providing for the licensing of remote bookmakers was provided for in the Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 and this requirement became effective from 1 August 2015 as provided by the Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 (Commencement) Order 2015. Under this legislation it is prohibited to offer remote betting services to customers in Ireland without a licence, regardless of where the operator is located. Revenue is responsible for taking action against unlicensed remote operators offering betting services illegally to customers in Ireland.
I have been advised that in accordance with the Betting Act 1931, Revenue maintains a regularly updated register of operators to whom Remote Bookmaker’s Licences are granted. There are currently 56 Remote Bookmarker’s Licences approved and 43 are held by non-resident operators.
An operator applying for a Remote Bookmarker’s Licence for the first time, or renewing such a licence, is required to apply for a Certificate of Personal Fitness (CPF). In accordance with the Betting Act 1931, the Minister for Justice and Equality is responsible for issuing CPFs to officers representing remote operators. A CPF confirms that an individual, or the relevant officer of a Partnership or Body Corporate, is a fit and proper person to hold a Remote Bookmaker’s Licence. Revenue may only issue a Remote Bookmaker’s Licence where the applicant holds a CPF.
As Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform I am aware of this issue regarding off-shore bet-on-lottery operators and my officials have met with both the Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery (ORNL) and with the National Lottery licence holder, Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) in regard to this matter. My officials continue to engage with ORNL and PLI in respect of reviewing the impacts of these on-line lottery betting websites on the Irish National Lottery and in examining any potential actions that could be considered to address this issue.
The Minister for State at the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and e-Government, Mr. Patrick Donovan, T.D. is also due to meet PLI in the coming weeks in relation to this and other matters.