Ireland moves forward with overhaul of betting industry oversight

New laws which would see an overhaul of regulatory oversight of the betting and gaming industry implemented in Ireland have moved closer to completion, according to The Irish Times.

The outlet reported yesterday that legislation banning free bets and ‘VIP treatments’ for certain gamblers, whilst a long-touted regulatory body will also be launched. 

A new regulator for the Irish betting and gaming landscape has been in discussion for some time following the passage of the Interim Gaming and Lotteries Act’, the primary objective of which is to modernise Ireland’s gambling legislation, which dates back to 1931 and 1956.

The scope and duties of the ‘extremely powerful’ new body were outlined by Minister of State for Justice James Browne in July, whilst addressing the Seanad Éireann.

Browne detailed that the authority will employ 100 people and have the power to develop codes of standards and new regulations, whilst also holding the ability to impose fines in cases of non-compliance. 

According to The Irish Times’ latest update, the regulator will also be able to revoke or suspend gambling licences, freeze player accounts and block payments to operators.

Additional measures introduced by the new laws will include the development of a social impact fund which will fund addiction treatment and other social responsibility and gambling harm awareness initiatives via a betting levy.

Lastly, gambling advertising will also be addressed, with the new regulator maintaining the power to issue codes controlling the timing and frequency of betting and gaming advertising across television, radio and digital media channels.

Although Minister Browne stated that it would be ‘challenging to find a way of effectively banning advertising’ due to a heavy schedule of horse racing and domestic and international sports, he noted that Irish administrators would be monitoring the results of the UK Gambling Act review, which has also seen strong scrutiny of advertising.

Additionally, President of Ireland Michael Higgins has been supportive of a clampdown on betting and gaming advertising, describing described gambling marketing as ‘dangerous’ and the wider sports betting industry as a ‘scourge’.

The Head of State’s former parliamentary party – the Irish Labour Party – has also introduced its own legislation to the Oireachtas with the aim of enacting a blanket ban on televised betting advertisements.

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