27 Dec
2019

Law loophole means Donegal slot machines can only pay out 63 cent

first_imgA loophole in the law means that gamblers in Co Donegal playing hundreds of slot machines can only win up to 63 cent.Licenses for almost 600 machines at two amusement arcades were granted at a recent sitting of Buncrana District Court. However, because the licenses are operating under old laws they cannot accept a bet of more than 3c and cannot pay out any more than 63c.The owner of Star Amusements in Buncrana and Blackthorn Amusements in Bridgend, businessman Colm O’Donnell, applied for the licences.While there were no Garda or Fire Officer objections, a solicitor representing the Donegal Association against Gambling Machines objected to the application.Solicitor Ms. Maureen Gallagher said gambling has a profound effect on the local community and they were concerned about how they were being run and they wanted to question the director of the company, Mr. O’Donnell.Solicitor for the arcades, Elizabeth O’Donnell said her client was making the application for gaming machines following resolutions passed by councillors from the Inishowen Municipal District last March.She said all aspects of the application had been complied with and the objectors, while she acknowledged they were entitled to object, were not party to the application.She said Mr. O’Donnell was a well-known businessman, who kept his premises in good condition, had never been disqualified and the Gardaí had no issue with him.Mr O’Donnell said he had been working in the arcade business in Inishowen for more than 40 years and he welcomed recent changes to the legalisation Donegal County Council.He admitted that he currently has gaming machines in situ on his premises in Bridgend and Buncrana but that his machines do not currently pay out cash and operate on a credit basis.Mr. O’Donnell told the court they had been previously operating on an amusement licence but the Revenue Officials visited their premises and told them to get a different licence.“The Revenue audited us, and told us to get gaming licences. They took a few machines away until we got our licence up to date. We’re just following their instructions,” he said.Solicitor Ms. O’Donnell said her client had no gaming licence until last week’s court date but that they were applying to the court ‘at the first opportunity’ to get the new licence, which is now available to them.However, Judge Kelly queried how the businesses were operating for the last 40 years if the law was only changed by Donegal County Council in March.“Why would the court grant a licence to someone who admits to operating for years without one?” Judge Kelly asked.“I’ve been driving past these places for nine years – there is about three in Bridgend alone – and I always wonder what goes on in there. Now I’m being told that up until March they have operating illegally – it seems they are seeking forgiveness rather than permission.”Solicitor Ms.Gallagher, claimed they were operating illegally saying “They were uncontrolled and operating illegally.”However, Ms. O’Donnell argued there was ‘an unofficial amnesty’ and that they were ‘no different’ to any other arcade in the country.She disagreed with the assumption that Star and Blackthorn had been operating illegally, but accepted that they did not have a licence for the machines until now.Judge Kelly asked Mr. O’Donnell how the machines operated and what was the maximum stakes and winnings involved.He said people could put in 10p or 20p or a pound and they could ‘get two back’ However he said if you get ‘five sevens you could win 50 pound’.Ms. Gallagher said the current Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 stated that the maximum stake was 2.5c and the reward was to be no more than 50c.She argued that anyone doing anything different was ‘obviously operating illegally’.Ms. O’Donnell said the law around gaming machines was old and outdated and currently until review by the Government.Mr. O’Donnell said the Bill was currently before the Seanad and due to be updated. He said they are lobbying to have the Bill amended and the regulations changed.Judge Kelly said this Bill will take some time to come in and currently they are constrained by the act as it stands.He granted the licences to Mr. O’Donnell, for a period of 12 months, with the condition that any stake should not be more than 3c and no one should win more than 63c.Law loophole means Donegal slot machines can only pay out 63 cent was last modified: June 7th, 2019 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:buncranaColm O’Donnellcourtgaming machinesInishowenlawpayoutlast_img

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