Irish betting agrees to new code of conduct but market requires a regulatory overhaul

Ireland’s betting sector will implement sweeping changes brought in by a new ‘Code of Practice on Safer Gambling established by the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA).

This weekend, the IBA communicated that Ireland’s retail and online bookmakers had agreed to follow new industry rules, standards and conduct on safer gambling and player protection duties.

Mirroring UK policy, the new code will introduce an industry-wide ban on credit card transactions applied to online and retail wagering across the Republic of Ireland.

Sharon Byrne – IBA

IBA Chairperson, Sharon Byrne, explained –  “We recognise that there is a need for the industry to continue to develop the highest of standards for safer gambling. We believe in particular that the credit card ban and the ‘whistle-to-whistle’ advertising restrictions are significant steps on that path.”

New obligations will see IBA members pledge to make ‘voluntary contributions’ to ‘Social Responsibility Fund’ (SRF) operated independently by the Gambling Awareness Trust (GAT).

SRF funds will be used by GAT to “fund problem gambling counselling, prevention, education, research, and awareness services in Ireland”.

Further RET commitments, will see all IBA members participate in the Irish government’s Gambling Prevalence Study – to understand the impact and exposure of problem gambling on the nation’s health and wellbeing.

For retail incumbents, the new code has prioritised staff training to improve the ability to identify problem and at-risk customers, as betting shops pledge to operate safer gambling environments maintained by strengthened ID verifications, customer care interventions and better documenting of incidents.

Meanwhile, online operators will be required to safeguard their services with ‘customer-led controls’ requiring seamless access to deposit limits, session time-outs and providing customers’ information on their gambling spend/habits.

Adhering to new obligations on advertising, IBA members will observe a pre-9pm watershed ban on gambling advertising during general broadcasts, accompanied with a whistle-to-whistle advertising ban on live sports programming.

New marketing standards will be applied to sports sponsorships, that will no longer be allowed to display betting brand logos on under-18 merchandise and with sponsorship’s promoting ‘safer gambling messaging where possible’.

Launching Irish betting new responsibility mandate, the IBA stated that the code carried the support of – BarOne, bet365, BetMcLean, BetWay, Boylesports, Casumo, Chieftain, Entain, Flutter Entertainment, Fox’s betting, QuinnBet, SBO Bet, Sean Graham, Track Sports and Tully Bookmakers.

Closing its statement the IBIA has urged the Irish government to maintain its pledge to reform the nation’s gambling laws that have not been updated since the 1950s.

Last year, the Irish government’s proposals to establish an independent gambling regulator to oversee the licencing of all gambling operators received the ‘full backing’ of the industry.  Yet, following the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the creation of an Irish gambling regulator has been delayed until ‘at least 2021.

“The IBA has long called for the establishment of a regulator in Ireland,” Byrne remarked.

“This Code is not the answer to problem gambling and we believe there is more that can be done within the forum provided by a regulator. However, we believe that these measures continue the journey the industry has been on in recent years, to ensure standards are increased for all.”

 

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