Ireland: EGBA welcomes progress on gambling regulations

The Irish government’s proposals to establish a regulatory authority and a national self-exclusion register for gambling will help to improve the country’s regulation of online gambling and better protect its gamblers; but reports of a potential blanket ban on free bets are concerning.

On 21 October, Ireland’s Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Browne TD, published the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill which aims to modernise and reform the regulation of gambling, including online gambling in Ireland.

Among the proposals includes the establishment of an independent gambling authority to oversee the country’s gambling activity and various gambling regulations, including advertising. The proposals will now be submitted for drafting to the country’s Office of Parliamentary Counsel and will also be referred to the Oireachtas Justice Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny, with the accompanying legislative process expected to take at least 12 months to finalise.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomes the publication of the proposals and the progress made in establishing dedicated regulations for online gambling in the country. Specifically, EGBA welcomes the proposals to establish a regulatory authority for gambling and the creation of a national self-exclusion register to allow those experiencing gambling harm to omit and block themselves from accessing gambling websites.

EGBA is, however, concerned about recent media reports that the Irish Government may introduce a blanket ban on free bets. Such a measure could, for example, nudge gamblers who regularly use free bets, or bonuses, to seek these with the many gambling websites, including those in the black market, which operate outside of the scope of Irish gambling regulation.

“We welcome the Irish government’s publication of the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill. This is an important milestone, and it provides companies, including our own members, with some certainty as to the direction of travel of the legislation. The EGBA looks forward to engaging with Minister Browne and his team to share our experiences from other European jurisdictions. With Ireland one of the two remaining countries in Europe which has no dedicated regulation of online gambling, this is an important opportunity to shape an Irish online gambling market which is well-regulated, meets the consumers’ needs and expectations, and sets a high level of consumer protection.” – Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA.

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