In the Past
Throughout the recent times, there has been a growing demand for all types of gambling in Ireland. Casinos, slots and betting parlors cropped up in great numbers across the country. Having acknowledged the flourishing market at some point around 2006, the Government also noted that the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, which was in effect at the time, was entirely unsuited to regulate modern gambling. Described as "minimalist in nature'', the outdated legislation was drafted way back when casino-style gambling did not even exist in the present-day sense of the term. In fact, the conditions outlined in the Act rendered the majority of contemporary games practically unlawful. It was, therefore, decided that better regulations are necessary. In pursuit of a satisfactory solution, the Department for Justice, Equality and Law Reform appointed the Casino Committee to investigate the matter thoroughly and produce a report complete with recommendations for regulating gaming in Ireland.
Primary Objectives of the Gaming Regime
In December 2006, the Committee proposed a legislative basis for an effective regulatory system, which addressed all problematic areas and introduced strategic objectives behind the policy to:
- Ensure fair and transparent gaming and protect the interests of consumers
- Prevent money laundering and infiltration of criminal groups
- Appoint a gaming regulatory authority to license premises, operators, suppliers and key employees strictly
- Establish appropriate taxation, economic and licensing procedures for both terrestrial and remote gambling
- Differentiate between various gaming categories
- Ensure that the licensing and regulatory regime is flexible enough to respond to new developments
- Facilitate research and cooperation with other relevant agencies in relation to problem gaming
Current Licensing System
After multiple amendments and revisions, Ireland has devised a framework which, in its current form, corresponds to the proposed laws only to a certain extent. While it can be successfully applied to most, if not all, aspects of the gambling scene in the country, the system is primarily tax-focused, lacking somewhat in relation to player protection measures, software supplier licensing and the full scope of e-gaming services.
Having in mind the complexities of the modern-day gambling industry, achieving a proper regulation quickly and efficiently is extremely difficult. The government considers the legislation a work in progress, with the goals that should not be viewed as ''immediate'', but rather as ''ultimate'', meaning they are always in pursuit of better solutions under given circumstances.
There are several types of licenses issued in Ireland, each by a different government-empowered entity. In addition, various certificates which are mandatory within the application and licensing procedures are granted by separate national agencies. The laws differentiate between the following permits:
- Remote bookmakers and remote betting intermediaries license granted by the Revenue Commissioners
- Lottery licenses issued by the District Court
- Amusement Halls with four sub-types of licenses: general and machine-specific permit, gaming license and gaming machine license
All permits have a duration of three months up to one year, with the initial fee of €10,000, and renewal costs, based on turnovers, up to €200,000.
Before an operator can be considered eligible for the regulatory approval, they have to acquire personal fitness and tax clearance certificate and register with the appointed agency for the payment of betting duties if they intend to offer bookmaking services.
Establishing physical premises on the territory of Ireland is no longer necessary, as per the latest modification enacted in August 2015. Companies licensed in the jurisdiction of some other country used to be able to solicit Irish customers, but this has also changed - now all providers operating within the borders, remotely or otherwise, must be state-approved.
There are no limitations on the amount of permits that may be awarded, and the number of international gaming sites running a legal business in Ireland is steadily increasing, especially when sports betting is concerned.
Underage gambling is strictly prohibited, and other player protections measures are being worked upon and include handling problem gambling, customer complaints services and unlawfully influencing the outcome of the games, matches or other gaming activities regulated by law.
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