lthough casinos are not permitted under the existing law, which dates back to 1956, the industry operates by utilising a loophole in this legislation.
David Hickson, director of the Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland, explained that the law is to be updated very shortly. "The Minister for Justice is shortly to go to cabinet to decide policy for stricter regulation of gaming clubs and draft legislation is expected to be published during the summer this year," he told InterGaming. "We anticipate that regulation will permit modest size casinos, however there is the possibility that one large casino will be permitted in a number of years."
There is a certain degree of uncertainty over the way the new legislation will shape the industry in Ireland, particularly as there is a great deal of opposition to a major increase in both the number and size of gaming properties. According to Hickson, the market is unlikely to change dramatically while this level of disapproval exists.
"I would suggest that the number of venues will be modest in the first instance, as some of the clubs fail to comply and secure licences," he said. "However, the number of venues will vary according to demand in the market place. I suspect demand will grow over the medium to long term, but there will need to be a cultural shift regarding casinos before it could be considered mainstream.
"The interesting thing about gambling is the perception that betting and playing the lottery are not perceived as gambling but that poker, sports bettin, etc, are. However, there is definitely a shift in the level of acceptability, although it has a long way to go yet."