In relation to progressing changes to regulation and enforcement in the gaming sector, I can inform the Deputy that the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 completed all stages in the Seanad on 11 June 2019. I hope to be able to take Report Stage in the Dáil as soon as possible in this session so that the Bill can be finalised and enacted.
During the preparation of the Bill, my Department was made aware of the views of stakeholders. This Bill is an interim reform measure and provides an updated regulatory system for local gaming and lottery activity promoted under a permit or licence in Ireland. This measure will enhance consumer protection and assist the better promotion of lotteries.
Bingo is deemed, by court decisions, to be a lottery activity. Accordingly, a lottery permit or licence must be obtained in accordance with the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. Lottery licences are issued by the District Court under the Act, with lottery permits being issued by An Garda Síochána.
At present there is no legislative provision for a special distinction for commercial bingo operators whether under the current Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 or under the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019. It is not my intention to change public policy in this regard.
The modernisation of this area of law is an important priority for the Government and the current Bill is an interim step pending further and more comprehensive reform of the gambling area in general.