The government of Ireland has recently approved a new maximum stake and maximum payout for gambling machines.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan introduced changes to the Cabinet, which will see a new maximum stake of €5 for gambling machines. This new initiative was approved by the local government towards the end of November.
The changes introduced by Flanagan also include a €500 maximum limit for electronic gaming or slot machine payouts. Prior to this recent development, these limits were last updated back in 1956, and the government’s main argument for making the changes was the need to modernise the local framework.
Department of Justice Minister of State David Stanton has this to say about the recent changes: “Modifying stake and prize amounts is the only current role of the Minister of Justice and Equality with regard to gaming machines. The proposal had been to raise these amounts to €10 and €750, respectively. However, during the Dáil committee stage debate on July 10, 2019, on the modernisation of the stake and prize amounts, some Deputies felt that the proposed amounts were excessive. The Minister of State undertook to consider the matter and now proposes €5 and €500.”
Another change the government plans to implement is an increase in the age requirement for using gambling machines. The minimum age required is currently set at 16 years old, and the government plans to raise this to 18 years.
These proposals were put forth by Flanagan in the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019, which is an interim reform of the law that updates the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956. The 63-year-old regulations currently in existence peg the maximum stake on gambling machines at 3 cents, and the top payout at 50 cents. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice has said the Bill is set for debate in the near future, and the aim is for it being enacted before the current session ends in July 2020.
The same spokesperson stated that Flanagan can only influence regulation related to the stake and prize amounts for licensed gaming machines. Where licensing and regulation of the machines are concerned, as well as the premises where the machines are going to be used, it is the Revenue Commissioners who have the responsibility.
Just last month, Ireland introduced another new measure that will see local bookies getting relief from betting duty of €50,000 per calendar year. According to Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, this initiative will be very helpful to small independent bookmakers in Ireland. Among other things, the new measure will establish that bookmakers in the country will not be required to pay taxes on the first €50,000 in bets that they take in a year.
Donohoe explained that the initiative was still subject to EU state aid rules. In addition to the aid increasing to €50,000, the tax strategy group from the Department of Finance had also suggested allocating €2 million a year to help local bookmakers compete against leading operators such as Ladbrokes and Paddy Power.