Irish Laws Ready 'Very Soon', Says Panel

October 24, 2022
​​​​​​​Ireland’s progress towards establishing an independent gambling regulator and introducing new legislation has been welcomed by a panel representing a wide range of industry stakeholders.


Ireland’s progress towards establishing an independent gambling regulator and introducing new legislation has been welcomed by a panel representing a wide range of industry stakeholders.

Sharon Byrne, chairperson of the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA), understands the new law will be presented “very soon” and reiterated the trade group’s full support of long-awaited legal reforms.

Byrne and other panellists were speaking as part of a European Safer Gambling Week webinar on Ireland.

Drafting of the Gambling Regulation Bill, which outlines the framework and legislative basis for the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, is “well underway”, according to the Department of Justice, which has said in the past that its contents should be published this autumn.

The regulator is expected to become operational in Autumn 2023.

Bryne said the IBA will continue to develop safer gambling rules for its members, similar to its voluntary credit card ban and advertising restrictions, but believe a regulator is best placed to make safer gambling changes.

However, the new regulator will have a “significant challenge” to get on top of the sector in terms of safer gambling safeguards, according to Joe Kelly, a partner at law firm A&L Goodbody.

“There is an underage issue that needs to be taken care of and anti-money laundering (AML) will also be in regulators' view. There is also an opportunity though to put in place best-in-breed regulations that should enhance our market domestically and internationally,” Kelly said.

In order to achieve that, Kelly says the regulator needs to be accessible to all stakeholders and ensure there is a constant flow of communication, as well as being open to learning from other regulators.

“We want regulation put in place that provides details around the new law to ensure its proper enforcement. The measures need to be practical and fair to everyone involved in the industry,” Kelly said.

Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), also wants “clarity and predictability”, meaning that “laws should be easy to understand and not ambiguous”.

Haijer similarly believes this will require “open communication and ongoing dialogue” with the new regulator, adding that although it may seem obvious, he has experience with some EU member states where this does not happen.

Pam Bergin, chief executive of charity the Gambling Awareness Trust, which was established in 2019, is similarly “delighted legislation is moving so swiftly”.

Bergin hopes that when the legislation is presented to the legislator that it includes continued funding for the charity through a social fund supported by licensees.

Despite already growing support for tackling gambling-related problems, Bergin says a large-scale public awareness campaign is still required to help explain the problems that can arise from gambling.

“Our primary message is always that help is available. We have run our ads along major sports matches etc and know that helps with engagement,” Bergin said.

In the Department of Justice’s latest update on gambling reform, it pledged €1m to help progress the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority.

The additional €1m allocation for 2023 will support the new designated CEO of the regulator, Anne Marie Caulfield, as they prepare to ensure work can begin as soon as it is established.

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