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Question

432. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of premises in Dublin with slot machines; the licensing requirements for the operation of these machines; the legislative measures he is taking to address the use of slot machines in premises in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54503/18]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): While the Minister for Justice and Equality has legislative oversight of gaming and lottery activities under the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, my Department has no current role in respect of the licensing and regulation of gaming (slot) machines.
Lawful gaming in amusement and gaming arcades in Ireland is confined to areas in respect of which Part III of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 is in force. Part III is only in force where a resolution has been passed by the relevant local authority to permit gaming machines.
‘Slot machines’ are not defined in Irish law. However, ‘gaming machines’ are defined in the Finance Act 1975 and ‘amusement machines’ are defined in the Finance Act 1992. A gaming machine allows a player to win a monetary prize, of any amount, or a non – monetary prize in excess of €7 in value. An amusement machine allows a player to win no more than an opportunity to play the machine again or to obtain a non-monetary prize up to €7 in value.
An operator of gaming machines must first apply to the District Court for a certificate for a gaming licence. This is required for each premises where it is intended to make gaming machines available for play. Provided the District Court grants this certificate, the operator must then apply to the Revenue Commissioners for a Gaming Licence for each premises concerned. The Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 provides that Revenue shall, on the application of a person who has been granted a certificate for a gaming licence by the District Court and on payment of the relevant excise duty, issue to that person a Gaming Licence.
An operator of gaming machines must also apply to Revenue for a Gaming Machine Licence in respect of each gaming machine made available for play. Gaming Machine Licences may only be issued by Revenue Commissioners to an operator who already holds a Gaming Licence (for premises) and who has paid the relevant excise duty.
An operator of amusement machines must apply to the Revenue Commissioners for an Amusement Machine Permit and pay the relevant excise duty. An application for an Amusement Machine Permit must include a schedule of the public places in the State where amusement machines are to be made available for play. Operators of amusement machines must also apply to Revenue for an Amusement Machine Licence for each amusement machine made available for play and pay the relevant excise duty.
While licensing of these machines is not the direct responsibility of my Department, to assist the Deputy, I have had enquiries made of the Revenue Commissioners.
I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there are 2 premises in Dublin that either currently have a Gaming Licence (and are licensed to make gaming machines available for play) or were so licensed up to a recent date.
I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a complete figure for the number of premises in Dublin specifically that are licensed for the operation of amusement machines is not readily available, as permits may be issued to an operator for any premises in Dublin or in other locations where amusement machines are made available.
I am again advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are currently undertaking a national compliance project in relation to gaming and amusement machines. Questions with regard to this matter should be referred to my colleague the Minister for Finance.
As the Deputy will see from the above, the legislation in this area is complex, therefore I hope to publish the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill early in the current Oireachtas session. This will be an interim reform measure, pending the bringing forward of comprehensive gambling control legislation.
The amendments proposed under the Bill address certain deficiencies with regard to the conduct of activities regulated under the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, and provide for the modernisation of that Act by way of, among other matters, arrangements for the better promotion of lotteries, updating certain stake and prize limits and standardising the minimum gambling age at 18.
As regards wider reform of gambling licensing and regulation, the Working Group on Gambling is currently finalising its Report to Government. This Group was established to review the provisions of the 2013 General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill and other relevant developments since. These included matters relating to the future approach to be taken to the licensing of gaming machines.
I hope to bring this Report to Government for approval as soon as possible.