Article  |  Volume 1 | 2009-2010

Luck of the Irish: Will the Casinos Tranform from Gaelic Grey to Gaelic Green $$

by William N. Thompson
As the first decade of the twenty-first century evolved, Ireland was one of only two countries in the European Union that did not have legal, regulated casinos. The Irish Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 does not prohibit games with equal chances. Moreover, games can be conducted lawfully, according to the Act, if promoters assess minor seat charges to players, and “the promoter derives no personal profit from the promotion of the game.” Additionally, Part III of the 1956 law indicates that amusement centers can have slot machines that award small prizes. The Act also includes provisions for private lotteries, and the Act defines bingo games to fall under these provisions. In 2009, with the stage set and the atmosphere for legislation right, legislative proposals for legalizing casinos were presented to the D´ail. However, as the year progressed, the forces of inertia felt by gaming policy makers in many other venues seemed to affect Irish politicians. Nothing was done. However, at the same time, all agreed that the time for change had indeed come. In Dombrink and Thompson’s 1990 study, The Last Resort, they suggested that a veto model could explain a demonstrated reluctance to embrace the legalization of casinos in American states. If opponents of casinos could rally around but one major factor in a set of negative factors, they could defeat efforts at legalization. Factors included the venue’s historical experience with gambling, the integrity of casino sponsors, the general economic atmosphere, the presence of rival gaming interests, and the position taken by major elite interests. In Ireland, it may be suggested that a similar model could be in play. In the past, each of the major factors served as a major block to any and all attempts to win legalization of casinos. However, the factors have witnessed an oncoming atrophy, and each may soon cease to be a force in stopping casinos. Nonetheless, to a degree, they seem to persist in creating a state of inertia that still makes predictions of impending legalization a risky venture. Casinos persist with a grey posture. Lucky Gaelic green is still but an Irish hope.
1 UNLV Gaming L. J. 121 (2010)