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New gambling legislation, which will extend licensing to online gaming and limit the number and size of casinos in Ireland, has been published by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter.
The Irish Times newspaper reports a fund to help treatment for problem gamblers has also been included in the Gambling Control Bill. In a statement, Shatter said the new legislation is aimed at regulating the ‘new and dynamic gambling sector’ and will help ‘protect vulnerable adults and young people’.
The new bill states that anyone offering gambling services must have a license; replacing all existing arrangements for betting, gaming, bingo and lotteries with the exception of the National Lottery. The rule that states bingo always has to be for charitable and philanthropic purposes will also be relaxed.
In addition, it will limit the number of casinos in the state to 40, while no casino will be allowed to house more than 15 tables. Fixed-odds betting terminals will also be banned under the new bill.
A new self-financing agency will be set up to license and regulate the sector.
Elsewhere, age restrictions, staff training, advertising and promotion controls and a complaints and compensation procedure are also included in the bill.
Operators now need to keep enough financial reserves to cover the entitlements of customers and they will also be subject to a number of checks to ensure such operations are not being controlled by criminal gangs.
“I expect the gambling sector to commit itself in a meaningful way to the concept and practice of socially responsible gambling,” said Shatter.
“I will accept nothing less than high quality services and I will make sure that all operators pay their share for the development of services needed by people for whom gambling has become a problem.”