Irish Government Backs Down on Bingo

The Irish government has backed down a proposal that would have had a significant impact on the country’s bingo industry, after a backlash from players and operators.

Legislation that had been intended to modernise Irish gambling law, and that was due to be considered by the Irish parliament on Wednesday proposed a cap on the amount of money that can be awarded by bingo operators. The cap was to be set at 50%, but this led to a backlash from critics who said that if enacted, it would lead to the closure of bingo halls across the nation.

And in the wake of the criticism, the legislation was amended. An amendment, put forward by Sinn Fein on Wednesday night, passed with the unanimous support of all parties. The amendment raised the level of the cap for bingo operators to 75%.

The effect of the amendment is to ensure that most community-based bingo games will be unaffected by the new gambling laws, representing a triumph for the protests.

Speaking about the amendment, Denis Naughten, an Independent TD, said that the news was welcome and was an appropriate response to widespread concern among bingo players:

“All of us as TDs have been contacted by organisers and bingo players across the country. We are now back to a situation where whatever was the usual that was given out can continue to be given out in community halls right across this country.”

According to Naughten there will be no change for most players, with the cap only affecting prize money that is over €5,000, with the existing rules applying for all smaller amounts. He also commented that it was positive to see politicians from all sides work together to safeguard community bingo and to protect the interests of players.

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