I am happy to update the Deputy on the work of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Gambling, established as a result of the Government Decision to review the 2013 General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill and all relevant developments since. I chaired this group, comprising all stakeholder Departments and the Office of the Attorney General.
The Group met 6 on occasions since February 2018 and reviewed all of the provisions of the 2013 Scheme. The final meeting of the Group took place on 24 January 2019.
The Group's Report will now be finalised and I hope to bring it 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 I hope to publish early in the current Oireachtas session. This will be an interim reform measure, pending the bringing forward of comprehensive gambling control legislation.
The amendments proposed under the 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, arrangements for the better promotion of lotteries, updating certain stake and prize limits and standardising the minimum gambling age at 18.
As the Deputy may be aware, gaming machines are licenced under the provisions of Part III of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. The Minister for Justice has no role in the process which concerns a local authority resolution, District Court certification and licence issue by the Revenue Commissioners as appropriate.
‘Slot machines’ are not defined in Irish law. However, ‘gaming machines’ are defined in the Finance Act 1975.
The approach to be taken to the licensing of gaming machines in the future, will form part of the wider reform of gambling legislation, to be effected through a revised Gambling Control Bill.