Council opposes setting up casinos in Dublin city

News 30 May 2011

Dublin City Council has told the government it is opposed to the opening of casinos anywhere in the capital, according to a submission by the local authority for a review of gambling law reform.

The Department of Justice is currently examining the prospect of widespread legislative reform of the gambling sector here.

Casinos are illegal under the current statutes that cover gaming and betting here, but the existing law does not prohibit the operation of private members’ card clubs and other ‘casino-style’ venues.

A special cross-party subgroup on Dublin City Council was established to consider the terms of the review, which was set up during the lifetime of the last government.

‘‘Dublin City Council — and in particular its elected members — has very strong views on your ongoing review,» the group said in a letter to Michael Walsh, the then-head of the Department of Justice’s casino gaming control section, in a letter dated February 2, 2010.

In its attached submission, the council said that it was ‘‘opposed to any review of gambling laws that extends gambling beyond what is available at present’’.

The local authority said that it did not want to see ‘‘new gaming arcades or casinos within its jurisdiction’’, and said it believed that gambling was dangerously addictive.

The sub-group said that it had concluded that the negative consequences of gambling ‘‘greatly outweigh’’ any tax and employment benefits to the local or wider economy.

The council said that it believed the current prohibition on allowing gamblers to drink should be maintained, even though casinos in Britain, the US and several Australian states are permitted to sell alcohol to customers.

The council’s approach differs from the views of the Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland (GLAI), which represents private members’ card clubs.

Some members of the GLAI are eager to expand their existing businesses as statutorily-recognised casinos to benefit from greater scale.

The GLAI also favours allowing gaming clubs to apply for liquor licences.

Both the council and the GLAI favour a regulatory approach to the sector, although the council said that it believed there should be a continuing role for local authorities in the process.

The local authority subgroup said that it was against the existence of one-arm bandits and slot machines in its jurisdiction, many types of which are currently prohibited under council by-laws. The council said that its chief aim was to ‘‘protect people from gambling, as opposed to making it more available to the public’’.

The local authority’s submission was signed by Philip Maguire, the council’s deputy city manager, who said that the views of the sub-group were ‘‘reflective of the council as a whole’’. 

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