The reform of the 60-year-old gambling law in Ireland, which has been in planning for years, seems to be finally advancing; however, it has raised some serious concerns as the suggested update increases the maximum stake 300-fold. It is feared that this could aggravate the country’s gambling addiction problem.
Old limits are being replaced with much higher ones
The proposed new bill, which is currently before Oireachtas, Ireland’s legislature, seeks to banish the limits set out in the Gaming and Lotteries Act from 1956 and to substitute them with new, considerably higher ones. Thus, the maximum stake for slot machines would no longer be 3 cents as it has been for the past 60+ years, but would be brought up to €10, while the maximum payout of 50 cents would be upgraded to €750.
According to David Stanton, Minister of State in the Department of Justice and the driving force behind the bill, the reform is inevitable and absolutely necessary as the provisions implemented in the old law are “completely unrealistic.” Having stated that he is open to discussing the appropriate maximum stakes, he believes the proposed terms simply bring the law up to date since other forms of gaming, such as bingo, scratch cards, lotteries etc. already offer stakes and prizes that are much greater.
The reform has not been very well-received
Even though the existing gambling law is indeed generally considered to be outdated, the new amendment of the bill has been met with strong objections coming from all directions. Majority of them are centred on the concern that the higher limits will also cause higher rates in gambling related problems, particularly gambling addiction.
Among the critics were two Independent Senators of the Irish Senate, David Norris and Gerard Craughwell. In their opinion, the updated limits are excessive.
“From 3 cent to €10 is bad enough, but from 50 cent to €750 clearly raises this situation beyond the question of gaming for amusement.”
His sentiment is largely shared by Barry Grant, CEO of Problem Gambling Ireland, who described the situation as “extremely worrying.” He added that even as it is, with the maximum stake as low as 3 cents, his organization regularly deals with people who walk into casinos with their wages and come out with their pockets empty.
“How much more quickly will they lose a week’s wages at €10 a spin in a market that is unregulated and has a history of zero enforcement?” he demanded.