The Maltese government says Ireland’s gambling bill could cause an increase in unlicensed gambling.
Ireland.- Malta has used the European Commission’s technical regulation information system (TRIS) to raise concerns about Ireland’s proposed gambling legislation. The Maltese government says that the proposed law could cause an increase in gambling with unlicensed operators by prohibiting certain types of games.
It argues that the text of the bill would allow the new Irish gambling regulator, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, to decide what type of games operators can provide and that there is a “lack of clarity” over what these will be. It argues that restricting certain types of games was a threat to the freedom to provide services as protected by EU law.
Malta also believes that such restrictions could limit operators based in other European Union member states that wish to offer their games to the Irish gambling market. The country also suggested that plans to limit the times at which people can gamble would be disproportionate and was “without further empirical evidence, research and justification”.
The government of Malta also raised concerns about the proposed limits on how much people can bet or win on certain games and the proposed gambling advertising restrictions, questioning why National Lottery advertising would not be subject to the same rules.
Malta’s submission argues: “Prohibition is not a proportionate and effective manner to regulate online gambling. The absence of a product in the regulated market may be counter-productive — in that, in the absence of a safe, legal and regulated offer, players might opt for the unsafe, illegal and unregulated offer.”
Malta remains a major hub for the online gambling sector in Europe. Ireland says a consultation run earlier in the year received no calls to change the proposed legislation.
However, Malta is not the only party to have called for changes to be made. Last week, Lottoland reported on a survey that it commissioned to sound out public opinion on Ireland’s proposed gambling reforms. The Ireland Thinks survey of 1,387 people found that while 75 per cent were in favour of the introduction of more regulation in the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022, two thirds believed people should be free to gamble responsibly.
Some 19 per cent of gamblers said they would turn to alternative offerings if gambling is restricted in Ireland. Lottoland suggested this meant that proposals for limits on wagers and winnings would be unpopular. It has urged the government to rethink and consult with the industry.