The Irish government has approved legislation which would raise the raise the minimum age to participate in and enter gambling venues from 16 to 18.
Ministers from the Irish Cabinet passed the Courts and Civil Liabilities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill yesterday afternoon, however the bill will not take effect until the full text is released by the government.
Under the current Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, 16-year-olds are able to enter gaming venues such as carnivals, circuses, amusement halls and arcades containing slot machines, funfairs and sports betting events. However, the Courts and Civil Liabilities bill amends this legislation, prohibiting entry to these venues for individuals under the age of 18.
The Bill will also introduce a new part to the 1956 Act clarifying existing legislative language governing sporting club lotteries and raffles, increase the stakes and prize pot limits, as well as introducing a uniform age limit for gambling to be set at 18 years.
Moves to clear up laws regarding lotteries come amidst concerns that local lotteries and raffles were acting without proper authority and regulation, most notably in the area of prize limits which are currently limited to €30,000 and subject to a licence from an Irish district court. Many lottery operators have prizes beyond this mandatory level, prompting authorities to include language increasing this limit.
This bill is the latest in a raft of measures to be introduced aiming to establish a greater degree of control of the Irish gambling industry, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar telling The Journal Ireland that: “This is an important issue. It is also important the Government puts in place a proper regulatory structure around gambling, both to regulate an industry from which many people get much pleasure but also one which gives rise to people becoming addicted, impoverished and unwell as a consequence. Legislation in this area is long overdue.”
Legislation has been delayed for some time due to ‘complexities’ surrounding its implementation, however the Taoiseach said the first legislation areas will be due to be introduced in the next parliamentary session.
No specifics have been confirmed; however one of the measures muted is a self-exclusion regime similar to that currently operated in the UK, whereby an individual can voluntarily exclude themselves from all betting shops and gambling establishments by registering with the UK Gambling commission.