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CR88-p40&41-Ireland Feature:SJC-Casino Review 21/1/10 21:03 Page 1
The Fiztwilliam Card Club in
Dublin: a private members
club, not a casino
The baize that wouldn’t be ignored
Irish casinos currently have no legal status. Casinos are outlawed and yet private members clubs with roulette and blackjack
have flourished. As the government moves from the threat of an all-out ban towards legalisation, regulation and taxation,
Paul Sculpher spoke to David Hickson, a prominent face in the Irish sector, to find out more.
privatechancer in Ireland” report of the members will “bank” the Department at this point it exist over slots, alcohol, making shops, for the time
FEATURE casino committee produced tables so as to ensure that could be a big positive or a whether it should be sold or being at least.”
in 2008. Michael Walsh, the members are playing against big negative for our otherwise, and automated Whilst Irish casinos have
he recent history official from the Justice members, although in fact members, depending on table games. There has also no legal status at the
of the Irish casino Department who is in charge the vast majority of members how the law is formulated. been some debate between moment, the GLAI is
industry has seen of producing the draft Bill, is will never actually bank a According to Hickson, the automated table games working very hard to organ-
major turbu- a man in demand, but so far table so will in effect be critical legislative point for versus Fixed Odds Betting ise its own code of practise
lence, from a gov- few clues are publicly avail- simply punters. GLAI members, and new Terminals in Ireland. to assist its members on how
ernment Minister able as to what format the David Hickson, chair of entrants to the market, is that “There was a very strong to deal with these money
vowing in law will take. It is clear that the GLAI (Gaming and of licensing. “While we are movement against FOBTs laundering issues.
November 2005 to close foreign operators in large Leisure Association of reasonably confident that being place in bookmaking Hickson explained: “The
down all Private Member numbers are anxiously Ireland), the trade body that the Government and the shops, as it was considered very first suggestion of legit-
Gaming Clubs providing awaiting the results with one covers many of the existing Department of Justice offi- an inappropriate outlet for imacy is within the recent
casino-like services to the of the last new frontiers in casino-type operations in cials see the need to regulate them,” Hickson explained. piece of money laundering
current situation of includ- European gaming available. Ireland, including the the sector, as this is by far the “As this was essentially an legislation, which refers to
ing provisions for Private Legalising this not so virgin Fitzwilliam Card Club, of best avenue to ensure pro- issue for the bookmaking operations that are “casinos
Member Gaming Clubs in gaming territory would be which he is also managing tection of the weak and vul- sector we have stayed out of or offering casino-type
the Government’s draft AML lucrative and competition director, believes that nerable and to provide the debate, however the games”. The history of this
Bill. This seeks to transpose will be fierce if the nature of despite its grey nature, the proper consumer protec- view which seems to have industry in Ireland has meant
the EU 3rd Anti Money Laun- the law is permissive casino sector in Ireland isn’t tions, we simply don’t know been taken by government that some relatively inexpe-
dering Directive into Irish enough. that different to those in the criteria which will be and Department officials is rienced operators have
law for an industry that cur- The situation is currently other markets. used to determine who will that such machines would developed successful busi-
rently has no legal status. confusing to many. Casino- “Despite the fact that we and who will not get a be more appropriately nesses without having to
The general worldwide type gaming in Ireland is pro- currently operate in a semi- licence to operate. Ireland is housed in a management- worry about more complex
trend to regulate casinos has vided by private members’ legal environment, Irish still very conservative and heavy casino environment compliance issues. However
not, however, escaped clubs in an effort to remain casino operators are subject casino gambling is still con- where they can be strictly those operators who value
Ireland – the Irish Revenue within the confines of the to much the same factors as sidered the black sheep of policed and monitored, both their business and reputa-
Commissioner is in more 1956 Gaming & Lotteries Act any other casino operator,” the gambling industry, so from a problem gaming and tion are anxious to secure
need than most of tax which does not permit the he explained. “The recession one thing we are sure of, any money laundering perspec- appropriate guidelines from
income – and it would operation of casinos within has hit Ireland particularly proposed legislation will err tive. While supporters of the Department of Justice, as
appear that some form of the state. However as a hard, and revenues are of on the side of caution,” he FOBT’s argue these they now understand the
draft legislation is imminent. Private Members Club, the course down across the explained. machines present no more importance of ensuring that
The consultation process theory goes that consenting board. The prospect of Another critical question risk than the table games their business is fully com-
has been ongoing for some adults can engage in gaming casino licensing is a fascinat- will be what casinos are themselves, it seems to have pliant, both from a reputa-
time in Ireland, beginning between themselves. In ing one. With no real infor- allowed to offer within their been decided that they will tional and from a personal
with the “Regulating Gaming practise this means that club mation from the Justice operations. Question marks not be permitted in book- liability point of view.”
40 February 2010 • feature
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