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Cork East Fine Gael TD and Minister of State at the Department of Justice, David Stanton, has announced that the Government has approved the establishment of a national gambling regulatory authority.

Establishing a regulatory authority, as an independent statutory body under the auspices of the Department of Justice and Equality, is the key recommendation of the report of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on the Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling.

Following approval at Cabinet, Minister Stanton said: “A modern and effectively regulated gambling environment will ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that gambling will be a safe, fair and entertaining activity for the majority of those who choose to take part in it. We must ensure that it will provide enhanced consumer protection for players while limiting the harmful effects on young people and those who may be susceptible to addiction.

“It is intended that the authority will develop and enforce necessary licensing and regulatory measures in relation to all gambling activities, including those online. The authority will also regulate the industry in respect of the protection of vulnerable persons, age restrictions, staff training and self-exclusion measures and controls on advertising, promotions and sponsorship.

“The Department of Justice will now draft the necessary heads of legislation while work will also be advanced on scoping the resources needed to establish an effective regulatory regime. The Government has made a major commitment to the modernisation of our licensing and regulatory environment for gambling with the ultimate aim of creating a regulatory authority that will be self-financing through fees and levies imposed on licensed gambling operators”.

The Government has also approved the publication of the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019, which provides for the modernisation of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956.

Speaking on the proposals contained in the bill, Minister Stanton said: “The amendments to the 1956 Act will help promoters of local gaming and lottery activity, primarily sporting clubs, by bringing much needed clarity to the application process for permits and licences. This is an interim reform measure pending development of comprehensive reform in this area.

“The issue of underage gambling is one that I am anxious to address and it is proposed to standardise the age limit for participating in all activities under the 1956 Act at 18 years of age. The Totalisator Act 1929 will also be amended to provide for an age limit of 18 years for betting with the Tote while stake and prize limits will be updated.

“Gambling activity is of considerable economic impact in Ireland with an annual industry value of between €6-8 billion. I am certain that the two measures announced this week will help ensure the proper licensing and regulation of the many varied forms of gambling available as the industry continues to grow and evolve”, concluded Minister Stanton.