Gaming revenue up as Ireland gets tough on grey-market operators

Northern Ireland
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A crackdown on unlicensed gaming machines in the Republic of Ireland has led to a massive jump in licence requests from operators, according to new data released by the country’s Department of Finance.

Under Eire’s archaic gaming laws, each individual slot machine is required to display a valid excise licence issued by the Irish Revenue. In 2016, just over 6,000 of these licences were issued. But last year this figure leaped by a full third (to 9,612), as operators hurried to meet compliance and avoid machine seizure and penalties.

Statistics from the DoF show that the rush has provided the state with an additional E2.7m (£2.4m) in taxes.

Responding to a question on the matter in the Irish parliament last week, the country’s finance minister Paschal Donohoe said that Revenue Commissioners had been targeting non-compliance within Irish gaming and amusement since early last year – and had carried out nearly 285 unscheduled site visits to this end.

“A range of follow-up actions are being pursued with respect to the tax and licensing issues identified, including seizure of unlicensed gaming machines where necessary,” he said.

Gambling has repeatedly failed to attain legal redress for successive generations in Ireland. As extraordinary as it may seem, the last piece of
significant legislation governing Irish industry standards was the 1956 Gaming & Lotteries Act – predating the establishment of the Irish national broadcaster, never mind modern slot-machines.

The scant legislative landscape has contributed to the rise of a significant grey-market in the Republic, and inadvertently drawn together voices for reform on both sides of the gambling and anti-gambling fence.


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