Ireland: parliamentary committee proposes watershed for gambling ads

The committee also proposes the use of DNS blocking.
The committee also proposes the use of DNS blocking.

The Joint Committee on Justice has recommended that gambling ads be permitted only after 9pm.

Ireland.- The Irish parliament’s Joint Committee on Justice has published its take on proposed new gambling legislation. Its report on the Gambling Regulation Bill recommends that “all forms of gambling advertising” be restricted to after 9pm. It also proposes the use of DNS blocking to block access to unlicensed gambling sites.

The committee said its recommendation to limit advertising was due to concerns about the impact on minors, which it said had been shared by people in the health sector. It said that through meetings with stakeholders in March it had identified a general view that gambling should be subject to controls like alcohol advertising. It also said that the government should evaluate the relationship between gambling and sports.

As for unlicensed gambling, the committee recommended the use of domain name system blocking for unlicensed websites, which would see internet service providers ordered to block sites that don’t have a licence to operate in Ireland.

James Lawless, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Justice, said: “In October 2021, Deputy James Browne, the Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, forwarded the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill to this committee in accordance with standing orders for the purpose of pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme. 

“The Committee agreed to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny and has sought to scrutinise the proposed legislation and provide recommendations on areas where it believes change or amendments are warranted.

“I hope that this report will help to inform the legislative process and make a valuable contribution to the forthcoming legislation.”

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomed the committee’s scrutiny of Ireland’s proposed legislation and encouraged the government to learn from best practices among other EU member states.

Secretary general Maarten Haijer said: “We thank the committee for its report and willingness to gather and consider stakeholder input during its deliberations. A collaborative approach is crucially important because it is in the interests of all stakeholders for Ireland to have a well-regulated gambling market. 

“But there is also no need to completely reinvent the wheel: most EU member states already have well-established gambling regulations, and we encourage the Irish authorities to look to these for best practices.”

New Irish gambling regulator

Other proposals in Ireland’s Gambling Regulation Bill include the long-anticipated creation of a dedicated Irish gambling regulator, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland. In March, Browne said an international search had begun to find a CEO for the new body, with applications due to close on March 21.

Responding to a question from deputy Paul Donnelly at the Dáil Éireann, Browne said: “The Public Appointments Service is managing the recruitment in conjunction with an Executive Search Agency….All eligible candidates are encouraged to apply. Full details of eligibility requirements including citizenship criteria are included in the candidate booklet.”

Ireland’s overhaul of gambling legislation is also expected to include a ban on free bets, credit card use and VIP programmes, something that the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is concerned may push players to unregulated operators. 

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