Ireland’s Gambling Control Bill could see progress in 2019

Long-awaited regulatory reform of gambling legislation in Ireland could finally arrive in 2019, as the Fine Gael party promise to deliver the Gambling Control Bill.

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A full draft of the bill should be ready this year. © Pexels.

Updates to the 2013 bill, which has been shelved in recent years, could be seen within weeks, with ministers currently working on the legislation. Ministers are also working on the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill. A draft is planned to be released this year, but the new rules are unlikely to be implemented before 2020.

Current legislation has been in-place since 1956. With regulatory overhaul needed, work began on updating the framework in 2013, but little progress has been made.

Proposals are being worked on by an inter-departmental group. Those proposals will then be sent to the government for discussion.

Speaking with the Irish Times last week, David Stanton, Minister of State for Equality and Integration, expressed his and his party’s frustration at the delay to the bill, and at the inability to pass the legislation throughout 2018. However, Stanton has stated a draft of the bill will be delivered in 2019, that will address serious concerns:

With internet gambling you could lose your house overnight online. This is the area we need to regulate, as well as the advertising and glamorising of gambling. David Stanton, Irish Minister of State for Equality & Integration

Stanton also said that the plans announced in January 2018 to create an independent industry regulator remain. How an independent regulator would operate and how far its powers would extend has been a focal point of the inter-departmental group’s debate.

Ireland lags behind in terms of modern digital policies. But it’s not just politicians who want to see the sector better regulated. Irish Bookmakers have also been crying out for an updated regulatory framework that would see overseas operators regulated in the same manner as those with physical shops in the country.

It’s not all good news for operators though. Late last year, Paschal Donohoe, the Irish finance minister, announced that gambling turnover tax would double from 1% to 2% starting from 01 January 2019. The tax rate on exchange levies in Ireland has risen from 15% to 25%.

The news was met with shock from the industry, who claimed that such a move would leave to job losses and shop closures. The department of finance is currently reviewing the impact of the new tax rate.

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