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Ireland Considering Modernizing Gambling Laws

22 December 2010 by admin

dermot ahern2Ireland needs to modernize and liberalize their gambling laws and regulation, according to Minster for Justice Dermot Ahern. In a recent report on the state of gambling in the Emerald Isle, Ahern said that the existing gambling laws in Ireland are not sufficient for a 21st century gambling market.

In the paper, Ahern proposes a number of regulatory changes that the Department of Justice & Law Reform will take into consideration. For brick and mortar casinos in the country, the report suggests creating two different kinds of casinos, each with a different type of license.

One type of casino would be a full-scale casino resort, complete with hotels, conference rooms and other amenities. The other type of casino would be a smaller version lacking those amenities and carrying a maximum of 15 tables. Currently there are no full casinos in Ireland, though there is a thriving market of betting shops.

Ahern proposes making all private gaming clubs existing in Ireland apply for gambling licenses. Ireland is looking at the possibility of adding some Las Vegas-style casino resorts. One such resort, costing half a billion euros, is planned for Tipperary but is awaiting government approval.

ireland1In addition to licensing brick and mortar casinos, the report suggests setting up a regulatory framework for online gambling. Currently Irish citizens are able to play casino games at thousands of overseas online casinos, but the Irish government has no way to regulate or police those businesses. Of course, that doesn’t mean that those online casinos are unregulated; such thinking is a myth.

Still, the Irish government is more comfortable with allowing its citizens to play at online casinos if they are the ones ensuring those casinos are safe. Putting aside the fact that government regulation rarely results in increased safety and usually results in fewer choices and added expenses, I guess their argument makes sense.

Ahern stresses, however, that if they are to only license certain online casinos, they need an effective way to stop players from using unlicensed casinos. Any sanctions must be enforceable. The report suggests that banning advertising would not be easy to enforce, especially online advertising. For that reason, the report suggests the government block websites for online casinos that are not licensed by Ireland.

Anytime the government considers blocking websites, that should raise some alarms. Even if done with the best of intentions, giving the government control over what websites you can access is dangerous. Of course, there is also the question of whether they can even do that effectively. Other countries have learned that blocking websites can be difficult, since the sites can change their ISP address to get around the ban.

Whatever they decide to do, the proposition of expanding the gambling market, both online and offline, in Ireland should be encouraging for Irish gamblers everywhere.

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