Sinn Fein Proposes Full Reform of “Dark Ages” Gambling Regulation

Ireland’s main opposition party has slammed the current “dark ages” gambling regulations in the country. Sinn Fein has suggested reform, including a watershed ad ban.

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Sinn Fein Proposes Gambling Reform © Pixabay.

Sinn Fein, the opposition party in Ireland, has slammed the current “out-of-date” gambling legislation in the country and has proposed measures that they believe would futureproof gambling legislation.

One of the key points of the proposals includes introducing a total ban on pre-watershed gambling-related advertising between 6 am and 9 pm across traditional broadcast mediums and online media.

The party has released a document entitled ‘26 County Gambling Strategy’ in which they state that no gambling advertisement should target those under 18’s, including adverts that target families with children.

The party has also called for the introduction of an independent regulator who would oversee the industry in general. The regulator would also be responsible for the administration of a problem gambling fund to minimise gambling-related issues.

Sinn Fein believes the problem gambling fund would be financed by either introducing a mandatory levy on all gambling activity or introducing a licence fee payable by all operators offering gambling services in the country. The licence fee suggestion is similar to how the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is funded in the United Kingdom.

Under the proposals, the common practice of offering promotional new customer offers, such as matched deposits or free bets, would be outlawed. There would also be a requirement for operators to display a message outlining the dangers of gambling whenever a customer signs into their account.

Sinn Fein would also task the independent regulator with researching the feasibility of introducing other measures such as deposit limits and daily time limits for those identified as problem gamblers or at-risk customers.

It is also proposed that it would be a licencing condition that those offering gambling products would participate in a muti-operator self exclusion scheme. This would apply to online operators as well as legacy outlets such as retail shops and trackside bookmakers.

They also call for the adoption of the Swedish Playscan system which is a tool that monitors player’s behaviour in realtime and alerts the customer when it detects problem gambling behaviour.

Thomas Gould, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Addiction, Recovery and Wellbeing, has attacked the Irish government and accused them of “failing in its duty” to protect at risk gamblers and stated that the proposals that the party had put forward would rectify the situation.

“Current legislation is decades out of date and has failed to keep pace with the online world,” Gould said. “As a result, our young people in particular are being exposed to often predatory forms of online advertising and gambling which should be regulated.

“I am urging the government to act on my policies and ensure they are introduced without delay. The government must show leadership here and give the issue of gambling addiction the attention it deserves,” he added.

The current Irish government is a coalition that was formed after the general election in February 2020. It is a majority coalition government of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party. The coalition has pledged to unveil a a gambling control bill by Q3 of this year. The government has also stated that they will introduce a gambling regulator by the end of the year.

“It is wonderful to hear progress is being made on the issue of gambling but we have to remember that the first Gambling Control Bill was published in 2013 and has sat gathering dust since,” said Gould.

“In the meantime people, particularly those in recovery and young people, are suffering because of a lack of action. This isn’t acceptable.”

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