Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Justice and Equality
446. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality when she expects to publish the general scheme of the new gaming and lotteries Bill; if she will review the upper €360,000 threshold in respect of prizes that may be raffled by charitable, sporting and community organisations to allow for the rising valuation of new houses that may be raffled in such competitions; if she will reconsider expediting such a change by statutory instrument rather than waiting for a lengthy period for the new Bill to be enacted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49513/21]
The Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act 2019 was commenced on 1 December 2020, with all sections coming into effect.
As the Deputy will recall, there was extensive debate on this Act during its passage through the Oireachtas. The then Minister of State received many representations from a range of stakeholders at the time and these were extensively discussed and publicised.
The 2019 Act modernises the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 and will help the better promotion of local gaming and lottery activity held primarily for charitable and philanthropic purposes, and which are an important source of funding to sporting clubs and community organisations across the country.
The 2019 Act amends the 1956 Act to provide for lotteries promoted under licence for charitable and philanthropic causes only (e.g. sports clubs, community groups, etc.). A licence, once issued by the District Court, remains valid for 12 months and the maximum prize remains at not more than €360,000, if a lottery is held as a once off event in a year. This could apply to situations where sports clubs might raffle high value items, for example, properties. The maximum prize of €360,000 was introduced to give legal certainty to the offering of one single prize.
The 2019 Act is an interim reform measure pending the comprehensive reform of gambling.
Work on the General Scheme of the Gambling Bill is at an advanced stage. The Programme for Government gives a clear commitment to establish a gambling regulator focused on public safety and well-being, covering gambling online and in person, and the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.
As outlined in the Justice Plan 2021, I expect to be in a position to publish the Scheme shortly. There is a clear path towards the regulator being fully operational in early 2023.
While it is possible to amend the threshold by statutory instrument, given the imminence of that legislation, any changes would best be reflected there, as part of the wider reform process.
The Bill will importantly undergo pre-legislative scrutiny with an opportunity for further stakeholder engagement and input as part of that process.