Irish gambling stands at a new dawn, as the cabinet of the tri-party coalition government will today sign-off on the publication of the Gambling Regulation Bill.
Ireland’s new regulatory regime for gambling has been drafted by Minister of State, James Browne of the Department of Justice.
The bill seeks to safeguard the Irish public with a modern legislative framework for land-based and online gambling, updating policies on licensing, consumer standards, safer gambling and operator conduct.
Of significance, Irish gambling will be overseen by the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA), a newly formed government agency established by the legislation, that will be led by Anne Marie Caulfield as the agency’s first Chief Executive.
It is expected that the authority will commence operations as soon as possible after the draft Gambling Regulation Bill is enacted, with the authority to become operational in 2023.
In its remit, the GRA will be charged with creating a national gambling self-exclusion scheme, which must be offered to customers by all licensed operators (land-based and online).
Further approved measures will see the GRA establish a ‘Social Impact Fund’ for gambling harms that will be financed by a yet-to-be-determined % mandatory contribution provided by licensed operators.
In May, a joint committee on Justice undertook its ‘final legislative scrutiny’ on the inbound gambling regime, in which it recommended lawmakers tighten Ireland’s advertising codes, to support the bill coming into law.
The committee further recommended that the Irish Treasury reviews its policies to strengthen existing safeguards against money laundering and criminal financing conducted via gambling activities.
Paddy Power and BoyleSports, Ireland’s largest gambling firms, have declared that they are ready for the market’s overhaul, having agreed in 2021 to no longer accept credit card transactions and to abide by a new code of conduct on advertising.
Ian Proctor, Chairman of Flutter UK and Ireland, said: “As a long-standing advocate of evidence-based safer gambling measures and a well-resourced regulator in Ireland, Flutter welcomes the imminent publication of the Gambling Regulation Bill. This development is a critical milestone and represents clear progress towards the establishment of a new Authority, which needs broad powers to respond to our dynamic and fast-changing industry.”
“We look forward to assessing the detailed terms of the Bill when published, and working constructively with the new Authority to put in place effective measures. These should protect those that may be vulnerable to experiencing harm, while allowing the vast majority of our customers who enjoy gambling safely to do so.”
The reform of Ireland’s gambling laws has been awaited for more than a decade. Since 2008, consecutive governments had been criticised for their inability to reform the nation’s laws despite bi-partisan support, with Ireland being the only EU member state to maintain no regulatory framework for online gambling.
In 2013, Ireland’s Department of Justice demanded that Enda Kenny’s government urgently update the nation’s gambling controls, as Irish courts could not convict criminal offences related to online gambling under laws established during the 1950s.