Proposed Gambling Law Could Shut Down Bingo Halls

Bingo hall operators are preparing for the protest outside the Leinster House on Tuesday to show their discontent on a new proposed gambling law. They suggest that capping prize money could lead to the closure of their businesses.

The new gambling legislation to modernize regulatory infrastructure will be presented before the Dail this Wednesday. The laws suggest a 50% cap for prize money on a bingo hall’s takings in a night. Currently, the rate is set at 75% to 85%. Dublin based Jack Potts’ head of operations Emma Lavelle said that new legislation has caused “total uncertainty” amongst bingo operators. She said that it would leave no scope for businesses to operate in the future. Jack Potts runs bingo halls in Crumlin, Tallaght, Cabra and Whitehall.

The proposed Gaming and Lotteries Bill 2019 is pending at Oireachtas and operators like Lavelle suggest that customers are already disinterested in the prospects. To safeguard their interests, groups like “Save Our Bingo” are doing a rally outside Leinster House today. They will talk about decreasing income and job losses. Jack Potts will lose 85 jobs if their bingo halls shut down.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said that David Stanton, the Minister of State responsible for gambling policy is maintaining close contact with bingo hall operators. He said that concerns regarding returning minimal amounts to holders of lottery licenses arose during the bill drafting process. The bill’s solution is to create a new payment matrix that allows 50% of payments to go to prizes, 25% to expenses incurred in lottery operations and the final 25% to charity.

He added that the matrix allows for a progressive, sustainable, and balanced share of proceeds for the lotteries. Some bingo customers have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the proposed bill.

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