Wednesday, 27 January 2016
Department of Justice and Equality
107. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans, including the introduction of a gambling commission, to counter the epidemic of gambling, including gambling addiction, among amateur and professional sports persons given the consequences of such unregulated and unmonitored behaviour for persons and their families, interventions or supports in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3358/16]
The General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill was published in July 2013 following approval by the Government. The Bill, as proposed, will update all existing laws on the regulation of gambling, including betting and gaming but excluding the National Lottery. It will provide for the licensing of all forms of on-line gambling.
The Gambling Control Bill will, as set out in the General Scheme, confer responsibility for all regulatory matters on the Minister for Justice and Equality. The Minister's functions will include licensing, inspections and prosecutions, and it is envisaged that these functions will be carried out by a body located within my Department. The General Scheme also provides for a dedicated inspectorate to ensure compliance by licence holders with the terms of their licences and with the new legislation generally.
The proposed legislation will have consumer protection generally as one of its core principles, and it is envisaged that it will include several measures aimed at the protection of vulnerable persons, including children, from risks to their well-being arising from gambling. In particular, the Scheme of the Bill envisages the establishment of a Fund to promote socially responsible gambling and to assist in counteracting the ill-effects of irresponsible gambling. The purposes of the Fund may include public education and awareness programmes, research and treatment programmes. The current scarcity of information on the scale and impacts of gambling underlines the need for such measures.
While it would remain my intention, and that of my Cabinet colleagues, to proceed with this legislation at the earliest feasible opportunity, at this point in time I expect it will be a matter for renewed consideration in the preparation of a new legislation programme by the next Government.