The Irish government has approved the publication of the Gambling Regulation Bill that will establish a new regulatory body and introduce “a robust regulatory and licensing regime” for the sector.
The Bill is intended to establish “a modern and streamlined approach to gambling licensing activities” to replace a “currently fragmented regime”.
The legislation paves the way for the establishment of a gambling regulator focused on public safety and well-being that covers gambling online and in person, with the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.
Consistently labelled a “priority action” by the country’s government, three types of licence for both in-person and remote gambling will be introduced. These are B2B; B2C gaming, betting and lottery and those for charitable causes.
Furthermore, a watershed prohibiting gambling advertising at certain times of day, this being between 5:30am and 9:00pm, will also be introduced.
“It is an important and necessary piece of legislation, designed to meet the challenges of gambling responsibly in 21st century Ireland”Micheál Martin, Taoiseach
“This approval by Cabinet is significant and the publication of the Bill is unquestionably a major milestone,” Micheál Martin, Taoiseach, said of the government’s decision.
“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.”
The Bill will establish a national exclusion register and prohibit the use of credit credits, with a newly established regulatory authority also possessing the power to outlaw inducements.
A social impact fund, financed by the industry, will be created and managed by the Authority and will be used for initiatives to reduce problem gambling and support awareness raising and educational measures.”
The Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, hailed as “essential” to success, will have the powers to request information, monitor compliance, conduct inspections and investigate any suspected or actual breaches of the statutory obligations on licensees.
Furthermore, it will also possess statutory powers to take appropriate enforcement actions against non-compliant providers and to impose sanctions where appropriate.
James Browne, Minister of State for Law Reform, explained: “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 … could, if convicted, face to up to eight years imprisonment and/or a fine at the discretion of the courts”James Browne, Minister of State for Law Reform
Adding as a warning to prospective licensees: “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 eight 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.”
It is added that this move represents a pathway mapped for the legislation progressing, which will facilitate the regulatory authority being established and operational in 2023.
Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, added: “As Minister with the responsibility for Children and Youth I welcome 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.”