Changes to Ireland’s Gambling Bill Could See Stakes Rise 300-Fold

  • Proposed changes to Ireland's 1956 bill met with strong objection
  • Fears this could worsen the country's gambling addiction problem
  • Advocate of proposed changes says current bill "completely unrealistic"
Rows of slot machines
A proposed change to Ireland’s gaming Bill could see a 300-fold increase in slot machine stakes.

Proposed changes to the law

The maximum stake for slot machines could increase 300-fold in Ireland. Many fear it will worsen the country’s gambling addiction problem.

The Gaming and Lotteries Act, which came into effect in 1956, is currently before Ireland’s legislature, the Oireachtas. It has remained largely unchanged, with stakes set to a limit of three cents (£0.027; $0.033). However, proposed changes would raise the maximum stake to €10 (£9; $11) and the payout to €750 (£674; $840), reports the Irish Times.

In a country where a number of politicians are calling for stiffer regulations to tackle its gambling problem, the proposed changes have been met with criticism. According to David Norris, an Independent member of the Irish Senate, the suggested increases are “enormous and vast.”

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,” he added.

Barry Grant, CEO of Problem Gambling Ireland, is also critical of the move. He raised the question of how much faster people would lose their week’s wages in an environment that is “unregulated” and has a “history of zero enforcement”.

Yet, while there will be plenty who voice their opinion against the proposed changes, others believe that the move is simply bringing the law up-to-date. That’s the view of David Stanton, Minister of State in the Department of Justice, who’s behind the bill. In his opinion, the 1956 law is “completely unrealistic”.

Stanton added that the Minister for Justice would have the power to raise or lower stakes while also enforcing a minimum age of 18 for all gaming and lottery games.

A growing problem

Like many other countries, Ireland suffers from gambling addiction problems. A survey in February revealed that one in 10 children are considered underage gamblers. 15% of boys aged 15 to 17 were found to have bet on horse or dog races, and 12% had bought a scratch card or lottery ticket in the past year.

According to Jack Chambers, an Irish Fianna Fáil politician, the blame for the country’s gambling problems can be laid squarely at the government’s door. In Chambers’ opinion, the government isn’t aware of the issue and is doing little to stop its spread.