Posted on January 16, 2014 12:56 PM   |   Permanent Link   

Speaking on the Betting (Amendment) Bill 2013

The Bill is designed to provide a regulatory system for remote bookmakers and betting exchanges that offer betting services in Ireland, regardless of location. It provides for a fair and equal treatment of all bookmakers and betting exchanges, including corporate bodies, offering services in Ireland and will bring into the licensing and taxation regime all remote bookmakers and betting exchanges.

Betting needs to be regulated extensively. If abused, it can be dangerous. Betting can lead to gambling, which can be very addictive. It can destroy families and lives.

I think that this development needs to be observed carefully and that steps will need to be taken to try and guard against gambling addictions being formed, and also to guard against existing gambling addicts being enabled to continue to feed their habit, which is immensely self-destructive. I recall the misery caused in this city by the scourge of the slot machines or "one armed bandits" as they were called, before Councillors on Dublin Corporation rescinded the adoption of the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act in the Dublin city area in the late 1980's.

This is not only the case now in the physical world, but also in the digital world, which has become increasingly capable of allowing betting and gambling, with less visible effects, as it can be done in private.

The new licensing system for remote operators will serve an important public interest - preventing crime and protecting consumers against fraud and will ensure that all businesses offering betting services from Ireland or to persons in Ireland are regulated appropriately.

Section 2 of the Bill before us makes a number of amendments to various definitions of the Betting Act 1931 and inserts new definitions to allow for the regulation of remote operations.

Section 9 inserts a new Section 5A into the Principal Act which sets out the application process to the Minister for Justice and Equality for a certificate of personal fitness to hold a remote bookmakers' licence or a remote betting intermediaries' licence. This section also provides a time line for the issue of such certificates, the basis for refusing a certificate and penalties for making or providing false or misleading statements in the course of an application for a certificate.

Section 29 inserts Section 32A into the Principal Act and provides for the application by the Minister for Justice and Equality to the District Court to make orders where Sections 2, 2A and 23 have been breached. This is designed to offer a means of enforcing compliance with a licence requirement and includes an order that credit institutions do not transact business in relation to certain accounts used in the conduct of bookmaking and remote bookmaking, a prohibition of advertising and sponsorship, and requires telecommunications service providers to block access to certain internet sites.

I commend the Bill.