Tuesday 19 September 2017

Super-casino on cards as gambling laws for overhaul

Michael Brennan and Fionnan Sheahan

JUSTICE Minister Dermot Ahern has given his clearest indication yet that the Government is preparing to reform the gambling laws.

Independent TD Michael Lowry is lobbying for the law to be changed to allow a 'Las Vegas-style' casino to be built in his North Tipperary heartland -- and the Government needs his support to pass the Budget.

Mr Ahern said the Government had received more than 70 submissions from the public and was drawing up a report on "reform right across the area". He added that gambling law "hasn't been reformed since 1956 and is completely out of date".

Mr Lowry has demanded that the report on gambling be published "immediately" so that the €460m Tipperary Venue project can go ahead near the small village of Two-Mile-Borris outside Thurles. It is the brainchild of developer Richard Quirke, a former garda from Thurles, who is best known for running a gaming arcade, 'Dr Quirkey's Good Time Emporium', on Dublin's O'Connell Street.

Mr Ahern made his comments about reforming the gambling laws on RTE's 'Week in Politics' -- although he pointed out that he personally was opposed to a super-casino in this country.

A spokesman for Mr Ahern confirmed that the report drawn up by officials in the Department of Justice had been finalised and would be brought to Cabinet shortly.

If the Cabinet decides to publish a new bill to change gambling regulations in this country, it is expected to take up to 12 months before this could be passed into law by the Dail and Seanad. Mr Lowry could not be contacted for comment last night.

'Mind-blowing'

Fine Gael Tipperary North TD Noel Coonan said there had been a positive reaction to the Tipperary Venue project, which would be located right beside the Dublin to Cork motorway.

"There is good, solid support for the proposal because of the expectation of a short-term allocation of jobs in the construction phase," he said.

The proposed development, which An Taisce described as "mind-blowing" and "Las Vegas-style", includes a 6,000sq m casino, a replica of the White House, a 500-bedroom five-star hotel an all-weather racecourse, greyhound track, 18-hole golf course and parking for almost 6,000 cars.

Irish Independent

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