New gambling regulator to be recommended by Government report

Aim is that regulator will self-finance through fees and levies imposed on operators

The responsibility for the licensing and regulation of thousands of gaming machines should be given to a new gambling regulator, a Government report is set to recommend on Wednesday.

The Cabinet is expected to approve a plan to establish a gambling regulatory authority this morning.

A new social fund, supported by levies on licensed operators, will also be introduced to support research, information campaigns and the treatment of those affected by gambling.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice David Stanton is expected to publish an interdepartmental working group report on the regulation of the gambling sector which will make the recommendation for the gambling regulator.


The Cabinet is also expected to approve the publication of a new Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 on Wednesday.

Interim reforms

It is understood this Bill proposes a series of interim reforms before the establishment of a regulator. The Bill will “bring clarity to the permit and licensing approach to small scale, local gaming and lottery activity, updating certain stake and prize limits and standardising the minimum gambling age at 18”, sources have said.

The Bill does not propose changes to the provisions in current law, which effectively mean the Government has no role or responsibilities in relation to the licensing or regulation of gaming machines, it is understood. It is instead left up to local authorities, district courts and the Revenue Commissioners to decide whether to grant a gaming licence or not.

The Irish Times revealed on Tuesday how 32 licences were granted every day last year for the machines, despite the risks of addiction commonly associated with them.

While the Bill containing interim measures does not propose to change the current arrangement with the courts and Revenue, it is understood that the interdepartmental report recommends the transfer of responsibility away from councils to the new regulatory authority.

Online gambling

The authority will develop and enforce the appropriate licensing and regulatory measures in respect of all gambling activities, including online gambling.

Sources have said that the Department of Justice had already started work on drafting the necessary heads of legislation and scoping the resources needed to establish the regulatory regime.

The ultimate aim is that the regulator will be self-financing through fees and levies imposed on licensed gambling operators.

The report of the interdepartmental group, which met throughout last year and early this year, will be used as a “blueprint” for future laws and changes to the sector, the Cabinet is expected to be told.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times