Ireland’s minister of state has hailed the “milestone” of appointing long-time senior civil and public servant Anne Marie Caulfield as the designated CEO of the country’s planned independent gambling regulator.
Minister James Browne acknowledged in the announcement that greater regulation of gambling in Ireland has “long been called for” and is a “key priority” of his.
“This is an incredibly important piece of work from a social perspective and will make a real difference in preventing harm to people from problem gambling, but also ensuring that modern and effective licensing and regulatory measures are in place for the industry,” Browne said.
Caulfield’s appointment paves the way for the Gambling Regulation Bill, which outlines the framework and legislative basis for the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland.
“Drafting of the bill is well underway,” according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), and its contents should be published in Autumn 2022. The regulator is also expected to become operational in Autumn 2023.
A Programme Board has already been established by the DOJ, which is tasked with “minimising the time between the enactment of the legislation and the date on which the regulator commences operations”.
Caulfield will now work with the DOJ to help highlight any staffing and resourcing needs of the new regulator as well as develop a procedural framework, the ministry said.
“The Authority must be built on a foundation of robust legislation and I welcome the progress to date of the draft Gambling Regulation Bill. I look forward to developing a close working relationship with all of the stakeholders in the sector, Gambling Regulators elsewhere in the EU and with Department of Justice officials,” Caulfield said.
The recruitment process for the new chief gambling regulator undertaken by the Public Appointments Service began last October, after the General Scheme of Gambling Regulation Bill was approved by the government.
News of the appointment was welcomed by numerous industry stakeholders, including the trade group the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA).
Chairperson of the IBA, Sharon Byrne, hailed it as a “milestone”, adding that it will work with the authority to “adopt further evidence-based measures to minimise gambling-related harm”.
Extern Problem Gambling (formerly Problem Gambling Ireland) praised Browne for both the appointment and a commitment to ban credit card gambling, enforce KYC checks, introduce a multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, end VIP schemes, restrict advertising and establish a social fund for addiction treatment programs.
Conor Grant, CEO of Flutter UK and Ireland, said the appointment represents “clear progress towards the establishment of the authority, which should have broad powers to respond to the dynamic and fast-paced nature of our industry”.