Lowry furious as super-casino hopes dashed
INDEPENDENT TD Michael Lowry's hopes of bringing a super-casino to Tipperary have been dashed by the Government's restrictive gambling bill.
The Gambling Control Bill will only allow for 40 small casinos nationwide – with a maximum of 15 tables and 25 gaming machines each.
And casinos will only be allowed to serve alcohol during pub opening hours.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the planned super casino complex at Two Mile Borris would not meet the new criteria.
"The Cabinet has made a decision that we will not have super-style casinos," he said.
Mr Shatter said the Government's view was that large casinos would not be in the public interest.
There are currently 34 casinos in the country employing around 500 people, but they are unregulated.
But the new bill prompted a furious response from Mr Lowry, who said it was the level of activity allowed in a casino that was ridiculously low.
"The cap on gaming machines and tables is so prohibitive as to make these proposed new casino licences commercially non-viable," he said.
Gaming tycoon Richard Quirke, who owns the Dr Quirkey's Good Time Emporium arcade on Dublin's O'Connell Street, is the main figure behind the Two Mile Borris casino. He will be objecting to the limits when he makes his submission on the bill.
But the Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland, which represents existing casinos in the country, said it was pleased with the ruling.
Director David Hickson said the population of the country was simply not big enough.
"Consultants in the UK have told me that you need 20,000 to 25,000 people per week to sustain it. How are you going to get up to 25,000 people down to Two Mile Borris every week? It's just not feasible," he said.
The comprehensive bill will replace the outdated gambling legislation – which was introduced in 1956 by a previous Fine Gael-Labour interparty government.
There will be a new gambling regulator, funded by a levy on casinos, who will award casino licences. Its employees will have full powers to search casinos and seize documents.
Fixed-odds betting terminals will be banned here. However, a small number of "gaming machines" will be allowed in bookmakers, bars and take-aways.