Ireland Postpones Discussion On Gambling Regulation Bill

April 10, 2024
Discussions on Ireland's Gambling Regulation Bill have been delayed as the Dáil Éireann, the country’s legislative lower house, selected a new Taoiseach on Monday.

Discussions on Ireland's Gambling Regulation Bill have been delayed as the Dáil Éireann, the country’s legislative lower house, selected a new Taoiseach on Monday (April 9).

It follows the shock announcement made by former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in March that he would step down from his position for "personal and political" reasons. 

Varadkar officially resigned on Monday, when discussions on the Gambling Regulation Bill were scheduled in the Dáil Éireann.

This meant that the Dáil’s schedule was changed and the appointment of Simon Harris as the new Taoiseach was decided instead. 

An Oireachtas (Irish parliament) spokesperson told Vixio GamblingCompliance that there is no confirmed date currently set for the Gambling Regulation Bill to be discussed. However, it is expected that a new schedule to discuss the bill will be decided sometime soon. 

The bill is currently in the report stage, the fourth step in an 11-step legislative process ending in a bill being signed into law by the President.

In recent months, several different stakeholders have flagged concerns about the bill.

In a letter sent to minister James Browne TD, who is in charge of gambling policy, by the Electronic Money Association (EMA), the EU trade group representing electronic money issuers (EMIs), two key areas of legislative concern are highlighted.

Published on March 19, the letter warns that the bill’s inclusion of “prohibiting payments by electronic or digital means which uses money loaded from a credit card or from any other source of credit” is “too broad, and will be unworkable in practice”.

“As it will be impossible for PSPs to identify whether a source of funds is a form of credit (apart from credit card loading of a wallet), we would suggest that the best approach would be for this section to explicitly limit the scope to 'which uses money loaded from a credit card' and delete ‘any other source of credit’,” the EMA wrote.

The trade group also claims it is “unclear” whether “gambling-related services” extend to financial institutions and banks that provide services to gambling providers, which would require them to obtain a gambling licence under the new legislative requirements.

“A requirement to seek a specific gambling licence in order to provide payment services to gambling operators would likely dissuade many payment service providers, financial institutions and banks from providing the service, and thus reduce options for gambling operators. We therefore suggest that this measure is disproportionate and such providers should be removed from the scope of the bill,” the EMA wrote. 

Gambling and lottery betting operator Lottoland also wrote to Browne on March 7, flagging concerns around “vague and ambiguous definitions”, such as “bet” being simply defined as “pool betting” in the bill, as well as addressing comments made by the minister on the RTÉ Drivetime radio show on February 21.

The letter asked for a meeting with Browne to discuss these concerns; however, the minister never took up the offer.

Mike Kirwan, Lottoland vice president for UK and Ireland, told Vixio: “We are concerned that Minister Browne has met with colleagues across our sector, yet so far, despite our consistent efforts to meet, Minister Browne has refused to discuss the Gambling Regulation Bill with us.”

“The government should be worried about the impact the blanket measures will have on the revenue generated by the industry. In the UK, the government’s white paper outlined an estimated drop of 8-14 percent in online gross gambling yield (GGY) as a result of similar but targeted measures, which we can only infer will have similar or worse implications in the Republic of Ireland,” Kirwan said.

He once again urged Browne to meet with Lottoland. 

Last year, Malta also submitted two separate notifications to the European Commission flagging what it considers to be a host of regulatory barriers that may be a “cause for concern” in the Irish bill.

There are also notable concerns raised by horseracing and greyhound racing stakeholders about the impact of a watershed gambling advertising ban between 5:30am and 9:00pm.

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