New gambling laws have forced a casino club in Dublin to close with the loss of almost 80 jobs, its owners claim.
Fitzwilliam Card Club, a private members’ casino close to Merrion Square in central Dublin, closed it doors on Monday with the loss of 78 jobs, 52 of them full-time.
The business blamed the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act, 2019 for its decision, saying parts of the law, passed by TDs and senators last week, effectively bar it from operating.
Lawyers advised the casino club’s operators that under the act, it required a gaming permit to continue trading.
However, the law only allows the State to issue permits where the chances of all the players, including the banker, are equal. This means that anyone seeking a permit has to provide gaming for free.
The odds offered on games such as roulette and blackjack include a margin - called the “house edge” - which favours casinos providing them.
The edge, normally around 2 to 3 per cent, provides the business with its turnover, but it means that the odds are skewed against the players. Thus not everyone has an equal chance of winning.
A spokesman said that the Fitzwilliam highlighted to Government and opposition TDs that the law threatened its business.
“Sadly, our pleas fell on deaf ears and an amendment was not granted to safeguard the business and our 80 employees,” he added.
President Michael D Higgins is expected to sign the Gaming and Lotteries Act into law this week and a commencement order should bring it into force shortly afterwards. The law makes it a criminal offence to operate without a permit or a licence.
Fitzwilliam Card Club offered roulette, blackjack and other casino games to members, who had to verify they were over 18 before joining. It was also a venue for poker tournaments.
Its parent company, The Golden Horseshoe Ltd, lost €269,000 last year and had net assets of €1.3 million on December 31st 2018. Turnover was €2.6 million.
The club said it will fulfil all obligations to workers, including leave and statutory redundancy payments. It has also pledged to members that it will honour any deposits or chips that they hold.