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Dublin Arcades abusing Amusement License to operate as Casino’s

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A number of properties in the Dublin city center feature casino-style gaming machines, although a long-standing ban is supposed to prevent machines of this type from being featured in the city, The Times reports.

The news outlet further reveals that Richard Quirke, one of Ireland’s richest people with estimated net worth of €40 million, is operating one such facility on O’Connell Street. Dr Quirkey’s Good Time Emporium was originally supposed to operate as an amusement arcade. However, after several visits to the property, The Times has found that a neighboring building had been converted into a gambling facility with casino-style games such as video poker, roulette, and blackjack. The casino operates with licenses from Ireland’s Revenue (Revenue Commissioners) that are actually only applicable to amusement machines.

Under a directive issued by the Dublin City Council in 1988, gambling machine licenses are banned from being issued on facilities within city limits. However, operators seem to have successfully found a way around to develop a thriving casino industry across Dublin by applying for and obtaining arcade game licenses.

The Times reports that Dr Quirkey’s has not been the only unlawful casino operation in the city center. The news outlet named two more properties it has visited while investigating the issue – Empire Amusements on Burgh Quay and Amusement City on Westmoreland Street.

No Age Checks

According to Revenue’s definitions, an amusement machine is one that allows players to win “no more than an opportunity to play again” or “to obtain a non-monetary prize” the value of which does not exceed €7.

The gaming machines at Dr Quirkey’s are mostly ones that feature casino-style games and allow players to wager up to €2,500The Times also reports that a sign that reads “Fun for all ages” stands above the gambling terminals.

The news outlet has found that there were no age checks at the property to ensure that underage customers are prevented from playing the casino-style games featured there. The Times also reveals that the machines could easily be used for money laundering as it does not seem owners have taken proper measures to prevent this from happening. Unlike Dr Quirkey’s, the above-mentioned two other facilities that have been found to be operating as casinos seem to be performing proper age checks.

A 2015 report by the Gaming and Leisure Association Ireland (GLAI) submitted to the Irish government pointed out that amusement licenses were actually cheaper than licenses for gambling machines and that the exchequer was thus losing quite some revenues. According to the report, if proper licenses were issued for casino-style games, the additional amount of €2.2 million could be generated from the actual licenses and the additional amount of €8.7 million could be contributed in VAT.

The report further assumed that of all 7,559 licenses issued for amusement machines, around 5,000 were actually used for gambling terminals.

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