Irish gambling bill proposes ban on free bets and credit card gambling


The bill will also create a new Irish gambling regulator.

Ireland.- A new bill to reform gambling legislation has finally emerged after some of its contents was teased last week. The minister of state for law reform, youth justice and immigration, James Browne TD, has introduced a bill entitled the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation.

As expected, it will create the first dedicated Irish gambling regulator. However, it also proposes new player protection measures, including a ban on free bets and on credit card gambling. The latter measure is something that Sinn Féin had called for and that Flutter and later the Irish Bookmakers’ Association (IBA) have already preempted with their own decisions to stop accepting credit cards.

Attempts to incite a person to keep gambling would be banned under the bill. It would also be forbidden to penalise players by refusing bets or reducing winnings, and gambling premises will not be allowed to house ATMs on their premises. 

Licence holders would also have to display terms and conditions in a clear location, including applicable odds, both online and in-person. They would also need to promote safer gambling awareness among bettors and include warnings on gambling risks on all screens and on all receipts, dockets and documents where possible.

Failure to comply with the new measures could result in a fine of up to €20m and 10 per cent of annual revenue, licence revocation and/or prosecution. 

Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland: responsibilities of the new Irish gambling regulator

The proposed legislation would create the first dedicated Irish gambling regulator. The Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland would be responsible for implementing measures to guarantee responsible gambling and financial transparency.

It will be the only licensing authority, with powers to grant, revoke and renew licences and also to control gambling advertising. It will have the authority to probe cases of suspected money laundering and to launch prosecutions and issue sanctions.

The bill will now go to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel to be drafted, and on to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice for review.

Browne said: “The publication of the general scheme is an important milestone towards the effective regulation of gambling in Ireland under the new, independent statutory body – the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland.

“We all accept that the current legislative framework is fragmented, outdated, lacks a coherent licensing and regulatory approach, and is in need of significant reform. Now is the time to finally address this issue comprehensively, once and for all.”

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