Industry welcomes publication of Ireland’s Gambling Regulation Bill

Voices are growing against gambling advertising in Ireland.
Voices are growing against gambling advertising in Ireland.

Gaming operators have responded positively to the legislation, although there are concerns that its language could ban all gambling promotion

Ireland.- The Republic of Ireland has published its new Gambling Regulation Bill, which was approved by the government last month. The legislation is set to overhaul the current patchwork regulatory framework and introduce a regulated online gambling market, which will be subject to taxation.

The bill will create a new Gambling Regulatory Authority to replace the role of various agencies, district courts and tax revenues commissioners and the department of justice and equality. Anne Marie Caulfield has already been named chief executive officer designate.

The bill will also establish a mandatory levy to finance a social impact fund for responsible gambling initiatives, including research, education and service provision. The size of the levy will be decided by the Gambling Regulatory Authority.

Aside from criticism of the decision to ban free bets, the industry has broadly welcomed the move to regulate online gambling, which is currently only available in Ireland via offshore operators.

EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer: “Today is a significant milestone, and we congratulate Minister Browne and his team for bringing forward the bill. 

“EGBA fully supports the Irish government’s ongoing efforts to establish modern regulations that fit the digital age and bring the country’s regulatory framework into line with EU member states.

“We look forward to the finalisation of the bill and engaging constructively with Irish policymakers to ensure the outcome is a well-functioning system of regulation that protects the interests of the many Irish citizens who gamble safely and recreationally, sets a high level of protection for consumers and those experiencing gambling-related harm, and provides clarity and long-term predictability for the gambling sector.”

Rules on gambling promotion 

Under article 148 of the bill, operators will be banned from using free bets as an inducement to gamble. However, it’s been noted that the text uses broad language that could potentially be interpreted as applying to any promotional activity.

It reads: “A licensee to whom this chapter applies shall not offer an inducement to a person to participate, or continue to participate, in a relevant gambling activity.”

Meanwhile, the new regulator will also have the power to prevent access to gambling at certain times or days. The law says that “a licensee of a remote gambling licence shall not provide a relevant gambling activity by remote means during such days, or outside such hours, or both, as may be prescribed by regulations made by the Authority”. It remains to be seen whether the regulator will use such powers.

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