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Just like many other gambling industries around the world, the Irish gambling industry is also booming. Not only are online casinos and venues enjoying more success, but the industry will be undergoing a much needed makeover in terms of laws and regulations.

In this news post, we’re going to take a look at how the new rules will eventually affect players and operators. We will also be discussing the highly anticipated launch of the new gambling regulator.

The Gaming and Lotteries Act 2019

In December 2019, the Gaming and Lotteries Amendment Bill was finally approved. Over the years, players and operators had to adhere to laws dating back to 1931 and 1956. That will all change today on 1st December 2020; From this day forward, the industry will be able to comply to gambling laws that offer better benefits in the long run.

Now that the new regulations have come into effect, casino operators have to think differently when it comes to promotional campaigns. Bearing this in mind, they also need to consider the licensing process, age limit, gaming activity and other commercial material. It’s very important for all operators to abide by the rules. If anyone is caught disregarding them, you may be facing some very harsh penalties.

We are now going to take a closer look at some of the key points enacted from the Gaming and Lotteries Act 2019.

A Standard Age Limit

Other gambling legislations in Ireland never specified a legal gambling age since most games had various age limits in the past. Thanks to the Act 2019, the new age limit is 18. This applies to gaming, tote betting and all activities related to the lottery. 

Stakes and an Increased Cap on Prize Limits

Limits have also been imposed on stakes and prizes. Now that the new rules have come into operation, all games will not exceed a maximum stake of €5. On top of that, the maximum cash prize is now €500. If these are exceeded, the operator in question needs to first obtain a licence from the District Court. A valid gaming licence will then be granted from the Revenue Commissioner’s office.

Important Changes to the Licensing and Permits

Thanks to the new rules, casino operators and players will be able to finalise any permit and licensing processes in a less complicated way. Here are some further insights:

Games

A new application for charitable, philanthropic or private benefit will be issued by the Garda Superintendent. Games will have a maximum stake of €10, whilst the maximum prize can go up to €3,000. That said, the Garda Superintendent will need to consider a number of key factors as follows:

With regard to any charitable purposes or private benefit, new applications will now approved by your local Garda Superintendent. The maximum prize is €3,000, while the maximum stake can go up to €10. On top of that, the following points are also subject to approval:

1. The character of the applicant, who manages the entity/if the person in charge represents another entity.

2. Other permits issued within the area

3. What kind of premises are being used to host the games

4. The games proposed

5. If charitable and philanthropic purposes involved in the games proposed

The Revenue Commissioners Office will be responsible for managing a database that features all valid licences available. Additionally, the District Court will decide on the gaming hours and whether or not to restrict certain games.

Lottery

Onto lotteries. In this case, operators also need obtain a licence from the District Court. But first, your local Garda Superintendent will assess the situation. This includes the following key points:

1. The applicant’s character

2. The purpose of the event

3. If any other lotteries are being held on the proposed date

As you can see, the permit and licensing process is very similar to what is expected from operators who host gaming activities. That said, there are still some rules that apply solely to lotteries:

1. The maximum prize cannot exceed €5,000

2. Tickets cannot cost more than €10

3. There is a notice period of 60 days

4. If the maximum prize and ticket cost exceed €5,000 and €10 respectively, promoters need to fill in an application form to obtain a lottery licence.

Charitable Lotteries

With regard to charitable lotteries, promoters don’t require a licence or a permit. That said, there are still some rules that need to be taken into consideration:

1. Prizes cannot exceed €1,000

2. €5 is the maximum stake

3. The maximum number that can be distributed is 1,500. 

4. Promoters will not make any profit out of charitable lotteries

5. There is a time frame you need to keep in mind if you organised other philanthropic events during the previous 3 months.

Bingo

The 2019 Act also introduces further rules for bingo events. In this case, the Bill proposes that while 75% of the profit made should be allocated to the prizes given out a bingo halls, at least 25% of the total taking should be given to charitable or philanthropic purposes.

Prosecution

If you are caught disregarding the rules summarily, the repercussions aren’t pretty. You can be fined up to €5,000 and also face a 6-month prison sentence. Things are even worse if you are indicted. Alongside being fined €50,000, you can also face a 2-year prison sentence.

The Launch of the New Gambling Regulator

Along with the rules and regulations that have been introduced, we also need to talk about the upcoming plans for highly anticipated launched of the new gambling regulator.

Minister for Justice – Helen McEntee states that she confident in what the programme can bring to the table. In fact, she adds further comments that the Government has ‘a clear commitment’ towards prioritising online safety, regulating promotional material and raising more valid points with regard to Irish casinos and online gambling.

However, it seems like there has been some delays in the launch of the new regulator. Although State Minister, David Stanton had stated that the team needed around 18 months, McEntee begged to differ. She has recently written a letter to TD Pádraig O’Sullivan stating that the team is still working on it and that the launch is delayed until at least 2021.

McEntee argues that given the complexities of the project, she feels that it’s important for her team to get it right from the start:

“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 strong footing and adequately resourced to carry out this important task,” McEntee said.

Although no launch date has been set, McEntee hope to bring forward some proposals in 2021. We will let you write an updated post on this once we have more information on the topic.

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