Ireland Mulls Remote Regulation

10 July 2008

Dermot Ahern, Ireland's justice minister, on Thursday published "Regulating Gaming in Ireland," a report that makes "significant public policy implications regarding the future architecture of many aspects of gaming and betting in Ireland," including the recommendation that the country begin regulating remote gaming.

The product of research undertaken by a casino committee established by Mr. Ahern's department in July 2006, the report makes many recommendations for modernizing the country's gaming regulatory regime.

At the moment gaming is governed by the Gaming Lotteries Act 1956, which is described in the report's preface as "a relic of social history . . . utterly unsuited to effectively regulate gaming in a modern wealthy European state."

Although casino gaming takes place at more than 30 private members' clubs across Ireland, the government is concerned because "the provision of such games is entirely contrary to the intentions of the 1956 Act and there is no regulation of their activities."

On the other hand, all remote gaming in Ireland is operated outside the country under the regulation -- and tax regimes -- of foreign countries.

The casino committee has advised the government to construct regulatory frameworks for both land-based and remote gaming. Incidentally, betting is not addressed by the commission because it is governed by separate legislation.

"Remote gaming is a multi-national, multi-billion euro financial services industry which has similarities to the major industries that Ireland has attracted by clear, efficient and focused policies," the report reads.

"Developments in other jurisdictions have led this industry to look for a well-governed, business friendly, fully sovereign jurisdiction," it continues. "Ireland has an international reputation for excellence in information and communication technology as well as in the provision of international financial services. This Report points the way to realizing many potential synergies available to Ireland in this area."

With regard to remote gaming, the committee suggests that "a full impact study, a technological assessment and industry analysis should be carried out."

Although the implementation of a new gaming framework is at least many months off, the committee advises establishing a regulatory authority for gaming should be an immediate objective. The "Interim Gaming Regulatory Authority," as the report calls it, should be based within the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and should include representatives from other relevant government authorities.

The next step in the process of modernizing Ireland's gaming industry is to establish a cross-party committee to examine gaming issues, including the recommendations of the casino committee.

The report apparently has been completed for some time but its publication has been delayed by political contention relating to the formation of a cross-party committee.

"I have published the Gaming in Ireland Report in advance of setting up the informal Cross-party Committee which is to be asked to examine all aspects of gaming in Ireland," Mr. Ahern said in a prepared statement released with the report.

"There has been some delay in getting all party agreement and nominees to sit on the informal Cross-Party Committee and I have decided that, rather than delaying the report further, to publish it now, allowing the summer recess for all parties to familiarize themselves with the contents of the Report.

"It is still my intention to proceed with the establishment of the Committee and my invitation to the Labour Party to participate on the Committee remains open. The Committee will have wide latitude to address the many complex and even emotive issues surrounding gaming and gambling."

"Regulating Gaming in Ireland" spans over 200 pages, and an entire chapter is devoted to the subject of remote gambling, the regulatory options available to Ireland, and the committee's recommendations in this regard.

Mr. Ahern said he welcomes any and all observations related to the report.

Click here to view a copy of the report.

Bradley Vallerius

Articles by Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials. Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

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