To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress of the gambling control Bill; the stage it is now at; when the Bill will be enacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Government has indicated on a number of occasions that it recognises the need to proceed with comprehensive reform of our outdated gambling licensing and regulation.
On 10 January, 2018, the Government approved the updating of the 2013 General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill. The proposed updating follows on from the review work undertaken in the Department of Justice and Equality and from the consultations held with interested stakeholders. The Government also approved the concept of the establishment of a new gambling regulatory authority as an independent statutory body operating under the auspices of the Department of Justice and Equality.
The proposals in the General Scheme were reviewed by the Inter-Departmental Working Group on the Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling. The Group's Report was approved and published by the Government on 20 March 2019. The Report contained a number of significant recommendations concerning all aspects of gambling activity. In particular, it recommended that future responsibility for licensing and regulation of all forms of gambling, including online gambling, rest with a proposed new gambling regulatory authority.
I hosted a major seminar on the future licensing and regulation of gambling at Farmleigh House on 15 May 2019, bringing together a large number of interested and concerned stakeholders to discuss the Report of the Working Group and further developments.
Work on revising the revised General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill is underway in my Department. This is a complex area and we must be certain that any reforms will be achievable and effective. At the time of publication of the Working Group Report, An Taoiseach indicated that work on revising legislation, taking account of the Working Group’s recommendations, would likely take a period of about 18 months to bring to completion.
Separately, I have brought forward the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019, an interim reform measure to amend the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act. I hope that Report Stage of the Bill can be scheduled in the House as soon as possible.
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