Betting and Gaming in Ireland: An Overview of Recent Legislative Reforms
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The laws governing betting and gaming activities in Ireland date back to 1931 and 1956 respectively, those being: the Betting Act 1931 (“1931 Act”) and the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 (“1956 Act”).
So far, reform of the regulatory framework around betting and gaming has been piecemeal. Recent years have seen the enactment of two pieces of legislation which update the principal Acts to some degree:
- Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act 2019 which amends the 1956 Act, and
- Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 which amends the 1931 Act.
This note seeks to outline some of the key aspects of those pieces of amending legislation.
Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act 2019
The Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act 2019 introduced a number of important changes to the 1956 Act (and also the 1931 Act), but fell far short of introducing the wide-ranging reforms that are required.
The 2019 Act provided for the issuing of Gaming Permits by the Gardaí, in respect of games where the maximum stake is €10 and a player cannot win more than €3,000 in a game. A gaming permit can only be issued where the chances of all of the players, including the banker are equal.
A gaming licence is required for gaming machines, and other gaming activities where the maximum stake is €5 and the maximum prize is €500. These licences are issued by the Revenue Commissioners.
Register of Gaming Licences
Under the 2019 Act, the Revenue Commissioners are required to establish a register of gaming licences.
Minimum Permissible Age
The 2019 Act also set 18 years as the minimum age for all licensed gambling.
The 2019 Act provided for a permit and licensing regime for lotteries.
For lotteries where the total prize value is less than €5,000 an application for a permit must be made to the local Garda Superintendent at least 60 days in advance of promoting the lottery. In order to be eligible for a permit, there is a requirement that tickets that are sold as part of the lottery must cost less than €10. Where the lottery is held for the benefit of a charity, the permit holder may only retain a maximum of 5% of the proceeds.
For lotteries where the prize does not exceed €30,000 per week, or does not exceed €360,000 for a once-per-year lottery, a lottery licence must be obtained form the District Court. Under a lottery licence, each ticket must indicate the value of each prize. There is a requirement that a maximum of 75% of the proceeds may be allocated to prizes and a minimum of 25% of the proceeds must be allocated to charitable or philanthropic purposes. A maximum of 25% of the proceeds may be retained by the licence-holder to meet the expenses of the promotion.
Lotteries that are held for charitable of philanthropic purposes do not require a permit or a licence where certain conditions are met.
Prize Draws and Marketing
Prize draws that are run for sales or marketing purposes do not need a licence or permit, provided that the total value of the prizes do not exceed €2,500 and entrants are not charged for taking part in the lottery or for recovering the prize.
Betting (Amendment) Act 2015
The Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 provides for a number of different types of betting licences:
- a bookmaker's licence;
- a remote bookmaker's licence (for firms that provide betting services remotely); and
- a remote betting intermediary's licence (for firms that facilitate the placing of bets with other people).
The 2015 Act brought remote bookmakers and remote betting intermediaries within the scope of the regulatory regime.
As a result, betting operators who are accepting or facilitating bets from Irish customers are required to obtain an Irish licence in respect of bets which they accept or facilitate from Irish customers even if they don’t have a physical presence in Ireland.
There is also an obligation on remote betting operators to pay tax on betting transactions with Irish customers.
The 2015 Act also introduced a requirement that, at next renewal, the holders of bookmakers licences apply for a new licence pursuant to the 2015 Act.
For a review of recent attempts to reform of gaming laws in Ireland, please click here.