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Ireland – Irish Government approves publication of Gambling Regulation Bill

By - 16 November 2022

The Irish cabinet has approved its new gambling laws that will see the introduction of watershed restrictions on gambling advertising from 5.30am to 9pm each day and a ban on free hospitality, VIP treatment, free bets and special officers.

Led by Minister of State for Law Reform, James Browne, this Bill sets out the framework for a modern, robust regulatory and licensing regime for the gambling sector.

The legislation paves the way for the establishment of a gambling regulator focused on public safety and well-being covering gambling online and in person, with the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.

The Bill gives legislative underpinning for the new Gambling Regulatory Authority, which will be essential to its success.

Welcoming the government decision, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said:“This approval by Cabinet is significant and the publication of the Bill is unquestionably a major milestone. It is an important and necessary piece of legislation, designed to meet the challenges of gambling responsibly in 21st century Ireland.

“This long awaited and much needed Bill takes a responsible approach to balancing the freedom to gamble with the safeguards to protect people from falling prey to addiction. This Bill provides a clearer framework for operators and for consumers.”

Speaking at the launch of the Bill today, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said:“At the heart of the Bill is the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, an independent body equipped to enforce regulation of the gambling sector.“The Bill will ensure that the Gambling Regulatory Authority can appropriately, meaningfully and swiftly respond to ongoing and future developments in the gambling sector. The focus on preventing harm is of vital importance. As a former Minister of Mental Health and as a local representative, I have seen the damaging impact gambling addiction can have on people and families, particularly on their mental health.”

The Bill provides for a modern and streamlined approach to gambling licensing activities which will replace the currently fragmented regime. Three types of licences for both in-person and online or remote betting will be introduced:

  • Business to Consumer Gaming, Betting and Lottery Licences
  • Business to Business Licences
  • Gambling licences for Charitable/Philanthropic Causes

Welcoming the government’s decision today, Minister Browne said:“Reforming gambling legislation and regulation in Ireland is a key commitment in our Programme for Government and Justice Plan, and has been one of my key priorities as Minister. I am pleased to have gotten the draft legislation to this point, and look forward now to it being published and brought through the Houses to enactment.

“This legislation will establish a Gambling Regulator which will be robust with a focus on prevention of harm to people vulnerable to problem gambling and particularly protecting children, and also a focus on enforcement of a strong, modern regulatory framework for the gambling industry.

“Operators who provide gambling activities without a gambling licence issued by the Authority, or who do not operate in accordance with the provisions of their licence could, if convicted, face to up to 8 years imprisonment and/or a fine at the discretion of the courts.

“Strict regulation of gambling advertising will be a priority area for the Authority. Under the legislation, advertising intended to appeal to children will be prohibited, as will advertising that promotes excessive or compulsive gambling.”

A watershed prohibiting gambling advertising at certain times of day (between 5.30am and 9pm) will be introduced: “In this digital age, to address the particular proliferation of gambling advertising on social media, such advertising shall be prohibited by default.

“The Bill also puts forward certain measures to minimise the ill-effects of gambling. The Bill will establish of a National Gambling Exclusion Register. The Bill prohibits the use of credit credits as a form of payment. The Bill will allow the Authority to prohibit the offer of inducements and promotions. “A Social Impact Fund will be created and managed by the Authority while being funded from the industry. It will be used to finance initiatives to reduce problem gambling and support awareness–raising and educational measures.”

There is a pathway mapped for the legislation progressing which will facilitate the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland being established and operational in 2023.

Noting the government’s decision today, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman said:“As Minister with the responsibility for Children and Youth I welcome the government’s approval to publish this new legislation which places a particular focus on prevention of harm to people vulnerable to problem gambling, children and young people.”The ever-changing but technologically advanced nature of the gambling industry means that children and teenagers are more exposed than ever to both overt and subtle gambling advertising. It is important that this is properly regulated to ensure that where gambling is advertised, it is done in a way that minimises harmful influences to young people.”

Speaking on behalf of Flutter, 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.

“Flutter fully recognizes that the industry has not always got it right in the past. However, our business has made significant strides in recent years in our safer gambling approach. For example, Flutter has initiated and driven a race to the top with the introduction of several proactive measures, such as our ban on the use of credit cards, mandatory deposit limits for under 25s, and a €10 stake limit on slot products. We will continue to lead from the front in this area.”

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