Ireland may be the next European country to stop trying to fight against gambling and instead try to regulate the industry. In a recent statement given to The Irish Times, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said that Ireland’s current laws on gambling were “past their sell-by date”. Although Dermot has expressed his support of legalizing and regulating gambling activities, he promised that no changes would be made until a cross-party agreement was reached and the public was consulted, as well.

Casinos have been illegal in Ireland since the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act but that hasn’t stopped close to 50 “private members’ clubs” from offering roulette, blackjack and other casino games. Unlike his predecessor, who wanted to shut these clubs down, Ahern said “We are past the day when we can outlaw them. What we need to do is regulate them in a way that is fair.”

Ahern has promised to soon publish the Casino Regulatory Committee report that had been ordered by his predecessor, Michael McDowell. This report included setting an age minimum for gaming of at least 18 and possibly 21 for casino gambling. A gambling regulatory body needs to set up criteria for casino licensing and those licenses should not be auctioned off in a bidding war. The report calls for government policies in all departments to be reviewed for consistency and that more research be conducted into the causes and effects of problem gambling.