Dáil Éireann - Volume 649 - 04 March, 2008
Written Answers. - Gambling Casinos.
Deputy Pat Rabbitte Deputy Pat Rabbitte
Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, having regard to the conclusions of the inter-Departmental Review Group on the Gaming and Lotteries Acts in 2000 to the effect that the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 effectively prohibits the operation of casinos here and that the ban on casino type gaming included in that Act should be retained in any new legislation, he will confirm policy in this area; if he has been advised that the 1956 Act has no application to casino type gaming carried on in members’ clubs; if so, the official status of that advice; if specific defects in the legislation have been identified; if the issue has been tested in the Courts or if it is planned to have it so tested; his proposals in relation to the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8962/08]
Deputy Brian Lenihan Deputy Brian Lenihan
 Deputy Brian Lenihan: The Report referred to by the Deputy — Review of the Gaming and Lotteries Acts 1956-86 — did not treat in detail with the question of the operation of casinos in this jurisdiction, only to the extent that it reaffirmed the position adopted by the Government in June 1996, arising from a report of a Casino Task Force established by the then Minister for Finance, not to give further consideration to the introduction of legislation to provide for casinos. In that context the authors of the report Review of the Gaming and Lotteries Acts 1956-86 felt that they were not in a position to make any recommendations regarding the area of casinos other than that: “The ban on casino-type gaming included in the 1956 Act, should be retained in the new legislation to confirm current policy in this area.”
Under Irish law, gaming and gambling is illegal, except where it is specifically permitted under the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act. Certain gaming activities are prohibited. The prohibition identified in the report referred to by the Deputy relates to the activities that are undertaken in casino-style operations, i.e. games where by reason of the nature of the game, the chances of all players including the banker are not equal. It is by reference to this provision that casinos are not lawful in the State.
I have been informed by the Garda authorities that they are aware of a number of private clubs offering casino-like activities around the country. These private clubs are visited by the Gardaí and I am informed that to date irregularities have not been detected that would justify a prosecution under the Gaming & Lotteries Acts 1956-86. I am assured that such premises will continue to receive Garda attention and if breaches of the legislation are detected the directions of the DPP will be sought. The Deputy will, I am sure, understand that it is a matter for the Garda authorities to investigate breaches of the legislation, and to take whatever action is appropriate.
In addition, the legislation proposed to give effect to the Third Money Laundering Directive (2005/60/EC), currently being drafted as the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering) Bill 2008, will impose on any establishment providing casino-type activities, including private members’ clubs, certain obligations in relation to compliance with the Directive.
As the Deputy is aware, in August, 2006, the Government agreed to the proposal of my predecessor for the establishment of a Committee (the Casino Regulation Committee) to report on the possibilities for a legislative basis for the strict regulation of casino-style operations in the State.
This Committee completed their Report in April last year. It is a lengthy document which deals with a range of complex and inter-related public policy issues. Following consultation with my colleagues in Government I am pleased to say that the Report in question will be published within a fortnight. At that time I will be in a position, also, to announce the steps I intend to take to advance the situation in the most appropriate manner. Needless to say, I do not propose to comment on the Report or any of its recommendations in advance of its publication.
Dáil Éireann 649 Written Answers. Gambling Casinos.