Sunday 25 September 2011

Shatter rules out 'casino resorts'

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has ruled out a proposed €460 million casino outside Tipperary, after he unveiled plans for new gambling legislation saying such developments were not in the public interest.

He said the casino planned for Two-mile Borris was “out”, based on new gambling laws signed off by the Cabinet.

In June, An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the Tipperary Venue proposed by businessman Richard Quirke.

“We’ve made very specific decisions in the public interest. Those specific decisions include a decision that we will not be making provision for resort-style casinos,” Mr Shatter said today.

The proposed legislation to regulate gambling will allow “modest-sized” casinos but will not provide for large gambling “resorts”.

Mr Shatter said the Government had agreed to immediately start work on new legislation to modernise the State’s gambling laws.

He said the shortcomings in the current law, such as the absence of any regulation on online gambling, were “exposing young people and other vulnerable persons to unacceptable risks”.

The Government had agreed that it was “long past time for a full and comprehensive revision of our gambling laws”, Mr Shatter said.

“The present laws are not adequate to deal even with aspects of gambling which they were intended to cover. For instance attempts to curtail unlicensed private members’ clubs, including prosecutions, have been unsuccessful.”

He said no provision would be made for large resort style casinos such as had been proposed by some promoters but that statutory provisions “will permit modest size casinos”.

The Minister said the Government recognised there was support for a form of casino entertainment and it would be an added attraction for some tourists.

He said he accepted that larger casinos would bring employment benefits both at construction stage and when in operation. But the Government was nevertheless concerned “that the scale of such developments is so large that they can attract other activities that are not desirable and pose a particular risk to vulnerable people”.

“It therefore concluded that, on balance, the social impact was likely to be negative.”

Mr Shatter said the Government felt it would not be acting in the public interest if through the forthcoming legislation it encouraged or facilitated the larger developments in the face of “real and substantial doubts” about their viability.

Mr Shatter said the number of casinos licensed would be limited and that every application would be “subjected to vigorous checks, including deep and extensive checks on the promoters”.

Only those promoters meeting “high standards of personal and financial probity” would be considered for a licence.

The Government was also aware that the supervision of large casinos would require “require disproportionate resources in the context of the overall resources available to the State for this purpose”.

The new legislation will also ban fixed-odds betting terminals. Mr Shatter said the Government was satisfied their prohibition was in the public interest.

Irish Times

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