Ireland plans to establish its own independent regulator for gambling

The government of Ireland has announced its plans to amend the Gambling Control Bill and establish an independent regulator to act as the watchdog for the country’s gambling industry.

The House of the Oireachtas

The House of the Oireachtas is Ireland’s national parliament. © Senior Times.

According to local news sources, last week, David Stanton, the Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, requested the approval of the cabinet to redraft the Gambling Control Bill.

The bill in its current state covers the gambling sector almost in its entirety. The laws were proposed in 2013 and included a recommendation for a regulator for the industry to be established from within the Department of Justice. However, these laws were never approved and haven’t since been passed into law.

Now, Stanton has proposed amendments to the bill to meet the changes undergone by the industry since the bill was first drafted in 2013 and to ‘protect consumers and vulnerable people’. Key among the amendments is that the bill would establish an independent statutory authority to regulate gambling and the industry in Ireland.

The regulator would be responsible for overseeing advertising, sponsorship, young people and gambling, and establishing a fund to help treat problem gambling and research into gambling addiction. Further tasks would revolve around improving the licensing system in the country, along with approaching gaming machines such as FOBTs, which are currently undergoing a government consultation in the UK. Stakeholders are currently being consulted.

The regulator would appear then to look something like the UK’s gambling watchdog, the UK Gambling Commission, and would be responsible for online gambling, casinos, and protecting children from accessing gambling games.

Irish bookmakers also in favour of more regulation

Surprisingly, Irish bookmakers will likely be pleased with tighter regulation of the industry. Speaking to The Journal in November last year, Sharon Bryne, chairperson of the Irish Bookmakers Association, said that Irish bookmakers would like to be on an even playing field as overseas operators and see that these operators were scrutinised and regulated like those with physical betting shops in the country.

Speaking about the possibility of an independent regulator, Bryne said:

It puts customer safety measures on equal footing across the industry… I’d welcome that across the sector.Sharon Bryne, Chairperson Irish Bookmakers Association

Earlier this year, the Irish finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, decided not to increase the current 1% betting tax on operators in Ireland.

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