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Ireland’s amended Gaming and Lotteries Act comes into effect

| By Robert Fletcher
The Irish government has announced the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act 2019 has come into effect, introducing a number of new measures for operators in the market.

Passed by parliament in December of last year, the Act has been designed to help streamline and modernise the application process for permits and licences, as well as better protect underage people from gambling-related harm.

The government also said that the amendment will ensure more proceeds from lotteries goes to charitable causes, as well as introduce new stake and prize limits for gaming machines.

“This Act modernises the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 and will help the better promotion of local gaming and lottery activity,” Minister of State with special responsibility for gambling regulation, James Browne, said.

“These activities, held primarily for charitable and philanthropic purposes, are the lifeblood of our sporting clubs and community organisations across the country.”

Key measures in the amendment include capping the maximum stake on gaming machines at €5 (£4.51/$6.07), while the top prize is now set at €500.

Existing regulations, which had been in place for 63 years, stated that the maximum stake on gaming machines should be 3 cents, while the top payout was set at 50 cents.

Meanwhile, no more than 75% of total takings from a bingo hall can be allocated to prizes, with at least 25% being allocated to charitable or philanthropic purposes.

The Act also sets a minimum age limit of 18 for all forms of gambling in Ireland, including betting on the Tote, which previously had no age limit for players.

In terms of new licensing requirements, all existing permits will remain valid until their next renewal date, after which operators will then need to reapply for a new licence covering the updated measures.

“Gambling is a large and evolving industry. It must be the subject of a modern, sensible and effective licensing and regulatory approach,” Browne said.

“My department is now engaged in the drafting of a General Scheme of a new Bill to provide for that comprehensive reform.”

Aside from new legal measures, the wider amendment will also see the launch of a new gambling regulator for Ireland.

It had been hoped that the organisation would be in place by the end of 2020, but this has been pushed back to 2021 at the earliest.

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