Written answers

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Department of Justice and Equality

Gambling Sector

Thomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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38. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to take appropriate measures to protect young persons from gambling related risks given figures from the last gambling prevalence survey that over 3,400 15 to 16-year olds were gambling excessively or problematically. [40757/20]

Photo of James BrowneJames Browne (Wexford, Fianna Fail)
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I very much share the Deputy’s concern that young people must be protected, insofar as possible, from engaging in gambling activities that may lead to problematic behaviour.

In that regard, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act 2019 was commenced on 1 December. The Act provides for a minimum age for engaging in gaming and lottery activity at 18 years. This applies to small scale gaming activities and sale of tickets for local lotteries. The Act also applies the 18 years of age requirement for betting on the Tote.

The Betting Act 1931 – which is the responsibility of the Minister of Finance already imposed the 18 years of age requirement by licensed bookmakers, either operating land based or online. Likewise, the National Lottery Act 2013 – which is the responsibility of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform - imposes an 18 years of age limit for purchase of tickets.

All licensed operators are under a statutory duty to take all necessary steps to ensure that sales of whatever type of gambling product they might offer are not made to persons under the age of 18. There is some responsibility in this regard on parents as well.

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to establish a gambling regulator focused on public safety and wellbeing, covering gambling online and in person, and the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.

Legislation is being prepared in my Department to comprehensively reform our approach to gambling. This will include the requirement of the effective “Know your Customer” process. Age verification will be a central part of that approach so as to prevent persons under 18 years of age from engaging in gambling.

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