Ireland: Minister Makes Commencement Order For The Betting (Amendment) Act 2015

Last Updated: 28 May 2015
Article by Rob Corbet and Chris Bollard
Most Read Contributor in Ireland, October 2018

On 14 April 2015, The Minister for Finance signed a commencement order for the Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 (the "Act"). The Act came into operation on 15 April 2015, with several aspects of the new regulatory regime set to commence on 1 August 2015.

PURPOSE OF THE ACT

The main purpose of the Act is to bring betting intermediaries (i.e. betting exchanges) and remote bookmakers (i.e. internet and mobile betting providers) within the scope of the existing licensing regime, while it will extend the existing 1% turnover tax on land-based bookmaker's activities to online and mobile bookmakers. The Act also means that the 15% commission tax for betting exchanges, which was initially tabled in 2011, can now be finally implemented.

MAIN FEATURES OF THE ACT

Bookmakers and Remote Bookmakers.

  • The current licencing regime for bookmakers is being extended to include "remote bookmakers". In the context of the Act, "remote means" includes the internet, the telephone and telegraphy (including wireless telegraphy). The initial fee for a remote betting licence will be €10,000.
  • A licencing regime is being introduced for remote betting intermediaries. A remote betting intermediary is "a person who, in the course of business, provides facilities that enable persons to make bets with other persons (other than the first mentioned person) by remote means". This will cover betting exchanges such as Betfair.
  • A "standard" (i.e. traditional or non-remote) bookmaking licence will now also allow limited remote betting. The value of remote betting on a standard bookmakers licence may not exceed the lower of €250,000 or 10% of that bookmaker's yearly turnover.
  • The Act for the first time defines the term "bookmaker" in Irish statute law as "a person, who in the course of business, takes bets, sets odds and undertakes to pay out on winning bets". This will cover traditional fixed odds bookmakers as well as those offering spread-betting facilities. It would not typically cover casino or other gaming services which remain largely prohibited under the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956.
  • For the first time, the Act permits a company to hold a bookmaker's licence or a betting intermediary's licence and it introduces some additional compliance and enforcement measures applicable to corporates.

Prohibitions on unlicensed betting operations

  • The Act makes it illegal to offer betting services (including intermediary betting services) over the internet to customers in Ireland without a remote bookmaker or remote betting intermediary licence. The existing prohibition on operating a bookmaker's premises without a license remains in place.
  • Sanctions include a class A fine (currently €5,000) on summary conviction. A conviction on indictment carries a penalty of a €150,000 fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both. The Act provides for fines of up to €300,000 for repeat offenders. Summary proceedings may be brought by the Revenue Commissioners.
  • The Act also provides for prosecutions in absentia, in order to cater for prosecutions against overseas bookmakers who fail to obtain an Irish licence and subsequently fail to present themselves before an Irish court, with procedures laid down to enable a trial to proceed as though the accused had entered a not guilty plea.
  • It is also illegal under the Act for a person to falsely hold himself out as being a licensed bookmaker, remote bookmaker or remote betting intermediary. The sanctions are similar to those for illegally offering betting services, with a maximum fine on conviction on indictment of €100,000, or €250,000 in the case of repeat offences.

Related prohibitions

  • The Act makes it illegal to advertise an unlicensed bookmaker or remote bookmaker in Ireland, to provide internet services to an unlicensed remote bookmaker, or to sell or cause to be sold to the public a product that bears the name or logo of an unlicensed bookmaker.
  • In such circumstances a compliance notice may be issued by the Revenue Commissioners which may be appealed to the District Court. Failure to comply with a compliance notice is an offence punishable on summary conviction by a class A fine or a maximum term of imprisonment of 6 months, or both, or on conviction on indictment a maximum fine of €50,000 or a maximum term of imprisonment of 2 years, or both.
  • Criminal liability of companies extends to its officers where offences are committed by a company with their "consent or connivance".

The Licensing Process

The licensing process requires:

  • That each licensee or "relevant officer" must be:

    • in receipt of a certificate of personal fitness;
    • in receipt of a tax clearance certificate; and
  • The payment of the appropriate excise fee (€10,000 initial licence fee).
  • A licensee / company must also be in receipt of a certificate of suitability of premises where relevant.

Certificates of Personal Fitness (COPF)

  • The requirement for an individual who wishes to become a licensed bookmaker to apply to the authorities for a "certificate of personal fitness" continues and is extended to applicants for remote licences created by the Act.
  • The Act distinguishes between applications for certificates for a bookmaker's licence or remote licences. In the case of bookmaker's licences, Irish resident companies are subject to a local "certificate of personal fitness" requirement from a local Superintendent of the Garda Siochána (Irish police) while non-resident companies are required to apply directly to the Department of Justice and Equality for their certificates of personal fitness.
  • Irish companies will be deemed to be ordinarily resident at their registered office while an overseas corporate will be deemed to be ordinarily resident at its principal place of business.
  • In the case of persons applying for a remote bookmaker's licence or a remote betting intermediary licence, all applications for a certificate of personal fitness are made to the Department of Justice and Equality, irrespective of residence.

Who needs a COPF?

  • It is unclear exactly who must apply for a COPF. The definition of a "Relevant Officer" in the Act considers the possibility of three classes of persons, namely:

    • a person who exercises control in relation to the body corporate;
    • a member (including the chairperson) of the body, or the board or board of directors of the body, or any other person acting in such capacity; or
    • the managing director or CEO of the body, or any other person acting in such capacity.
  • However, Section 7 of the Act suggests that in relation to a body corporate, all relevant officers must apply for a COPF. Current Department of Justice and Equality website guidance indicates that a COPF will only be mandatory for a person who exercises control in respect of the body corporate. Further clarity is likely to emerge once the initial phase of licensing commences.
  • The application process for the COPF requires that an applicant register as a Data Controller with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner ("DPC"). Given that the regulations governing DPC registration would not necessarily otherwise apply to bookmakers, it remains to be seen how the DPC will process such applications.

Application process for a Certificate of Personal Fitness

  • A notice must be placed in two daily newspapers circulating in the State between one month and 14 days before an application for a COPF is made. The Gardaí / Department have a maximum of 56 days to consider the application and to notify the Revenue in writing of its decision.
  • The COPF is only valid for 21 days from its issue and so a licence application must be made within that timeframe. Where a licence then issues on the basis of a COPF, the certificate is valid until the expiration of that licence.

Refusal of a COPF

  • The grounds for refusal of a certificate are (a) financial circumstances (b) the existence of a relevant consideration, or (c) failure to comply with a request for information during the application process.
  • "Relevant considerations" are listed in section 6 of the Act and include (a) prior gambling, tax or theft convictions, (b) where a previous licence or COPF was revoked, (c) where a licence holder unreasonably refused to pay sums due on a winning bet, or (d) where a bookmaker's premises was operated in a disorderly manner which caused loitering.
  • A certificate may also be revoked by the Department of Justice and Equality if a ground for refusal arises subsequent to the issue of a certificate. It is an offence to give false or misleading information to the Gardaí or the Department during the application process for a COPF.

Appeal of Refusal or Revocation

  • A person or relevant officer who has been refused or has had revoked either a COPF or a certificate of suitability of premises has 14 days to request the Superintendent / Department of Justice & Equality to provide reasons for the refusal in writing.
  • On receipt of such reasons, a person has a further 14 days to appeal the refusal to the District Court, on notice to the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Justice / Superintendent as appropriate. No further appeal lies from the District Court.

Tax Clearance Certificates

  • A tax clearance certificate is also required for each licensee and each relevant officer. The Act expressly provides for the sharing of information by Revenue, the Department of Justice and the Gardaí. It also provides for the sharing of information with overseas gambling regulators.

Licence Terms and Fees

  • Licences for bookmakers, remote intermediaries and licensed bookmaker's premises will be issued for up to 24 months ending on 30 November the following year (for bookmakers) or 30 June (remote bookmakers and remote intermediaries).
  • Annual renewal fees are calculated on the turnover of the bookmaker / intermediary.

Registers of Licensed Bookmakers / Bookmaking operations

  • The Revenue Commissioner will establish and maintain Registers of Licenced Bookmakers and Remote Bookmaking Operations, which will be publicly accessible.

Betting by Minors

  • The Act introduces new penalties for engaging in a betting transaction (including creating a betting account) with a person under 18 years of age. Penalties include a Class A fine or a 6 month prison term on summary conviction, up to €50,000 or 2 years on indictment. However, the original defence in the 1931 Betting Act of having reasonable cause to believe the person was over 18 years survives in the Act.
  • The Act also makes it an offence for a person below the age of 18 to represent that they are over that age in order to enter into a bet with a bookmaker (including remote bookmakers) or to enter a bookmaker's premises. A person is liable on summary conviction to a class E fine (€500).

Enforcement

  • The Revenue Commissioners are given powers to bring certain summary prosecutions. In addition, the Minister for Justice and Equality has the power to seek a District Court revocation order for non-compliance by a bookmaker, remote betting intermediary or relevant officer.

NEXT STEPS

The Act was commenced on 15 April 2015 and several aspects of the new regulatory regime are due to commence on 1 August 2015. Unlicensed operators providing betting services to customers in Ireland after that date will be committing an offence. The Department of Justice and Equality have published the forms required to apply for a COPF on their website while the Revenue Commissioners have issued guidance on the matter and advised that the appropriate licence application forms will be published shortly.

COMMENTARY

There are three key things to note from the Irish Act:

  • Act now! The Act was originally published in 2012 and has been a long time coming. However, there is very little time for companies to act if they are to ensure compliance by the 1 August deadline, particularly in circumstances where Revenue and Department of Justice guidance is continuing to emerge. While domestic operators have high visibility of the legislation, overseas betting operators and betting exchanges in particular should take immediate steps to commence the licensing application process if they are to meet the deadline.
  • Be warned – Sanctions Apply! The Act has been designed to encourage compliance through reasonably modest fees and a low tax rate but it has also addressed some of the concerns of operators that enforcement powers must be robust. There is likely to be significant pressure on the authorities to address non-compliance in early course if the Act is to sustain its integrity and credibility.
  • Limited Scope: While the commencement of the Act marks another step in the ongoing reform of the regulation of gambling in Ireland, it is quite limited in scope in that it only applies to bookmakers and betting exchanges. In July 2013, the Government published a General Scheme of a Gambling Control Bill which is intended in due course to address broader forms of gambling such as casino, poker, bingo, pari-mutuel betting, etc. However, that Bill will not progress before the end of the current government's term in Spring 2016 so casinos and other online gaming activities will continue to be largely prohibited in Ireland outside of very narrow confines.

This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions