The Irish government has approved a new Gambling Regulation Bill, which is set to usher in a number of gambling reform measures, including a new statutory authority that will act as the country’s regulator.
Gambling is currently regulated in the nation, through a fragmented governance structure that runs through multiple government departments, including the department of justice and equality, revenue commissioners from the Irish Tax Authority and district courts.
The new created body; Gambling Regulatory Authority, will have wide reaching powers that will regulate advertising and gambling operations, license businesses as well as impose sanctions and fines.
According to Micheál Martin, who served as Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fail party; the approval and publication of the bill is significant and necessary as the legislation, is designed to meet the challenges of gambling responsibly in 21st century Ireland.
He added that the long awaited and much needed bill will take a responsible approach to balancing the freedom to gamble, with the safeguards to protect people from falling prey to addiction. He added that the bill will provide a clearer framework, for operators and consumers.
Creation of a New System
According to James Browne, who led the legislation; reforming gambling legislation in Ireland, has been one of his key priorities as a minister, and a key commitment in their programme for government and justice plan. He added that he was pleased that the draft legislation has gotten approval and he now look forward to the legislation being published and brought through the houses for enactment.
Browne went on to state that the 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 the protection of children. Also, the regulator will focus on enforcement of a strong, modern regulatory framework for the Irish gambling industry.
Under the New System,
Three different categories of licence will be created for both remote and in-person gambling under the new system. The categories will be B2C gaming, betting and lottery licences; B2B licences; as well as charity licences.
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.
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.”
Provisions of the Approved Bill
Under the provisions of the bill, new rules are set to take effect in the ways that gambling is promoted and advertised in the country. Gambling advertising broadcasts will be subject to a restricted timeline between 5.30am and 9pm. The offer of free bets and promotions are also scheduled for abolition.
Strict regulation of gambling advertising will be a priority area for the regulatory Authority. Advertising intended to appeal to children will be prohibited, as well as adverts that promote excessive or compulsive gambling.
The bill also puts forward certain measures to minimise the side effects of gambling. The bill will establish a National Gambling Exclusion Register. The bill will allow Authority to prohibit the use of credit as a form of payment and the offer of inducements and promotions.