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Ireland establishes a regulator and prohibits daytime advertising and free bets

As a result of the government's approval of a new Gambling Regulation Bill, a number of gambling reform measures will be implemented in Ireland.

The proposal, which is led by state minister for law reform James Browne, will establish the groundwork for a new licencing and regulatory regime in the sector. The Gambling Regulatory Authority is slated to be established as the nation's new regulatory body.

Multiple government ministries, including the department of justice, the department of justice and equality, revenue commissioners from the Irish Tax Authority, and district courts, currently supervise gaming through a fragmented governance system.

The new organisation will have broad authority to regulate advertising and gambling, provide company licences, and apply sanctions and fines.

“This approval by cabinet is significant and the publication of the bill is unquestionably a major milestone. It is an important and necessary piece of legislation, designed to meet the challenges of gambling responsibly in 21st century Ireland,” said the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin.

“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.”

Institution of Ireland's licencing system

Under the new structure, there will be three distinct types of licences for both remote and in-person gaming. There will be licences for B2C gaming, betting, and lottery, B2B licences, and charity licences.

“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,” said Browne. “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 Act would establish a robust gaming regulator with an emphasis on preventing harm to persons vulnerable to problem gambling and protecting children, as well as enforcing a solid, contemporary regulatory framework for the gambling sector.

Browne cautioned that those who continue to offer illicit gaming services may face criminal charges.

“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 8 years imprisonment and/or a fine at the discretion of the courts.”

New laws

Under the provisions of the bill, new regulations will govern the promotion and advertising of gaming. There will be a broadcast restriction on gambling advertisements between 5:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Free wagers and promos are also slated for elimination.

“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,” continued Browne.

 “In this digital age, to address the particular proliferation of gambling advertising on social media, such advertising shall be prohibited by default.

“The bill also puts forward certain measures to minimise the ill effects of gambling. The Bill will establish a National Gambling Exclusion Register. The bill prohibits the use of credit credits as a form of payment. The Bill will allow the Authority to prohibit the offer of inducements and promotions.

“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.”



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