An Irish government committee set up two years ago to review the better regulation of casinos and gaming has taken a positive view on how Ireland could benefit from the restrictions in the United States on Internet gambling imposed by the Unlawful Internet Gamblikng and Enforcement Act.
This week the committee discussed the need for facilities by online companies impacted by the U.S. ban on financial transactions with Internet gambling firms.
"The recent United States prohibition of payment mechanisms for gambling online, presents a window of opportunity for Ireland," a Casino Committee spokesman said.
Ireland has a history of success through its ability to attract investment by foreign firms with the likes of Cryptologic, Google and Yahoo setting up European headquarters in Dublin. Ireland's low corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent has helped broaden its appeal for foreign investors.
The committee has stressed the need for strict regulation to protect minors and the vulnerable, prevent criminals from entering the market and ensure the trust of e-gambling customers, but noted that following a similar course to that taken by the United States presented numerous difficulties for little reward. It has also suggested that interaction with Finance Minister Brian Lenihan is necessary to negotiate competitive taxation rates if Ireland is to take advantage of the need for a secure and regulated base for online gambling companies.
The report noted: "Should this opportunity [to host regulated online gambling companies] be grasped within the
appropriate timescale, Ireland, as a gaming friendly centre of excellence, can reasonably expect to attract a reasonable portion of this dynamic industry."
Turning to land gambling, the committee found that over 30 establishments were providing games such as blackjack and poker by operating as private members clubs under the present dispensation dating back to 1956, which makes casinos illegal. Should the government decide to legalise gambling, this should be done with respect for European Union laws and in compliance with international guidelines concerning money laundering, but through a restrictive licensing regime.
The committee recommended that gaming in casinos and betting on activities such as sport should be seen as distinct and kept seperated. And the committee recommended that legalised and licensed casinos should have to pay a higher rate of tax than the 1 percent of turnover currently applied to bookmakers.
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