Ireland gives green light to historic Gambling Regulation Bill

Ireland approves new Gambling Regulation Bill
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Ireland’s gambling laws are set to undergo a drastic makeover after approval of the new Gambling Regulation Bill.

As reported by the Irish Times, the proposed bill is the ‘most far-reaching and comprehensive legislation to regulate gambling in the history of the state’, and it is likely to ‘fundamentally change the rules of gambling in Ireland’.

Notably, a total ban will be imposed on gambling advertising on social media and there will be criminal sanctions for gambling companies who fail to protect children and vulnerable consumers.

A failure to comply with the provisions of the Gambling Regulation Bill can lead to a term of imprisonment of up to eight years.

Approved earlier this week, it was announced that Irish gambling will be overseen by the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA), a newly formed government agency established by the legislation, that will be led by Anne Marie Caulfield as the agency’s first Chief Executive.

The authority will commence operations as soon as possible after the draft Gambling Regulation Bill is enacted, and it is set to become operational in 2023.

Other significant measures include a ban on gambling advertising between 5:30am and 9pm each day and a prohibition on children being in any premises where gambling takes place.

“The bill hits all the right notes but the devil really is in the detail and it is laying it onto the authority,” said Professor Colin O’Gara, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCD.

“I wish the authority really well but they are up to a huge task for a public office in my view. I cannot think of any public office where there is going to be such a task. It is a medical, public health and social justice issue all entwined in one.”

There are also plans for the creation of a ‘Social Impact Fund’ which will cover the cost of treatment for gambling addictions and provide education and awareness of the topic.

The bill will also provide for a National Gambling Exclusion Register. All gambling companies which offer services in Ireland, either physically or online, will have to register with the authority.

Responding to news of the new legislation, Ian Proctor, Flutter Chairman, commented: “As a long-standing advocate of evidence-based safer gambling measures and a well-resourced regulator in Ireland, Flutter welcomes the imminent publication of the Gambling Regulation Bill.

“This development is a critical milestone and represents clear progress towards the establishment of a new authority, which needs broad powers to respond to our dynamic and fast-changing industry.

“We look forward to assessing the detailed terms of the bill when published, and working constructively with the new authority to put in place effective measures. These should protect those that may be vulnerable to experiencing harm, while allowing the vast majority of our customers who enjoy gambling safely to do so.”