Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) confirmed they have both introduced an ‘Age Aware’ initiative at their racing stadiums countrywide to prevent under 18s from placing bets with the Tote.
In recent years, both organisations have invested heavily in the development and promotion of their facilities as family friendly.
They have actively encouraged families to attend race meets by promoting them as fun days out for all the family, encouraging First Communion, Confirmation, and birthday party visits in particular.
However, there were no controls on the ability of children to bets at the tracks.
Concerns about the practice have been raised several times over the years.
Complex legislation to update all existing gambling, gaming, and lotteries law concerning the regulation of gambling and gaming here was drafted by former justice minister Alan Shatter in 2013, but stalled.
Minister of state David Stanton was subsequently tasked with bringing the legislation to the Oireachtas.
Last week, a raft of proposed amendments to the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, together with amendments to the Totalisator Act 1929, which proposes to bring the age limit for betting with the Tote up to 18 years of age, were published.
The Dáil’s Justice Committee has said it will not conduct a pre-legislative scrutiny of the scheme and the Department of Justice said, as a result, that it now plans to engage with the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to progress the various texts.
Ahead of the adoption of the legislation affecting the Tote, HRI, and the IGB confirmed that they have now introduced an 18s age limit on the Tote betting.
“From October 1, all Tote wagering staff will adhere to a strict policy to ensure no individual under the age of 18 can place a bet — by checking photo identification,” they said in a joint statement.
“The underage measure proposed in new legislation, has been supported by HRI and the IGB as part of the industry’s commitment to responsible wagering.”
IGB Tote staff have received extensive training in adopting a ‘Think 21’ approach, information posters have been placed on display in various track venues, and customer logs and mystery shopper visits will also be used to ensure compliance.
The Irish Responsible Gambling Board welcomed the move. Spokesman Brian Barry said it has always been an issue of concern that children were allowed place bets on the Tote.
“It seems mad now but it was just always something you could do,” he said.