Garda curb on Casinos

An article in The Times newspaper by Stephen O’Brien reports that the justice minister has signalled a garda clampdown on casinos amid fears that they could be used to launder the proceeds of crime.

After a review of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, Michael McDowell and Rory Brady, the attorney-general, concluded that most of the casinos operating in Ireland are illegal.

McDowell could introduce garda powers to close illegal clubs through court orders. Such a move, still to be discussed, would make it easier for gardai to act against the 20 or so casinos that have opened in the past decade.

“Casinos will not be tolerated,” McDowell said. “They’re illegal under our legislation and the government is not prepared to countenance this type of establishment masquerading as a private club. The gardai will enforce the law and, if other measures are needed, I will introduce them. One aspect I am examining is a closure order similar to the power local authorities have to close unauthorised developments.”

Closure orders may be easier to secure than a criminal conviction against a casino owner or operator. It also means that those convicted would not escape with a fine and continue profiting from the business.
McDowell will soon put to the government the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, an “omnibus” piece of legislation covering several areas that could be used to bolster garda powers.

Casinos operating as private members’ clubs get around the law but could be deprived of the loophole if members have no real say in running the club or the allocation of resources.
A number of prosecutions against casino clubs are in the pipeline under the existing 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act and later amending legislation.

An international agency, the Financial Action Task Force, set up by several governments in 1989, told Ireland that it needed to strengthen its operations to prevent money laundering. It expressed concern that private members’ casinos have the potential for money-laundering and financing terrorism.

Editor, - 2006-03-21 17:45:28

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