The Irish government announced its plans to establish a new gambling regulator authority. On Wednesday the government voted in favour of this proposal, but the legislation will become active after at least 18 months.
This decision became known after a report from an inter-departmental working group was published. The Irish Minister of State David Stanton, who made the proposal, described the application of current regulations a “mid-20th-century approach”. According to him, the country is in dire need of modernisation to account for the technological advances during the last years. He proposes a reform of the industry which can’t happen without a new regulating body.
At the moment, the current legislation is incapable of properly regulating the market, which includes providing a consistent approach for all markets with the exception of the National Lottery. Currently the role is divided between a number of government agencies.
The gambling laws in Ireland haven’t been changed for almost 60 years and such a change was long overdue. In fact, this legislation was being discussed since 2013, but until now the proposal hasn’t seen a positive result.
What will the new governing body do?
One of the main tasks of the new regulatory authority will be to award licenses to all gambling operators who wish to operate in the country of Ireland. It will also have the power to hand out fines and revoke licenses from gambling operators that have broken the laws.
Another task for the body will be to take charge of a social fund and redistribute funds to different organisations and treatment centers. The new regulator should raise awareness of gambling-related issues. It will also promote educational initiatives regarding the subject of gambling. The Bill will standardise the minimum gambling age of 18 years across all gambling forms to prevent underage betting.
However, the biggest reason for the introduction of this governing body is to restore the integrity of sports betting in Ireland. The body will also take the role of a representative for Ireland in the battle against match-fixing and money laundering in regards to betting.
One of the most significant changes will affect the stake and prize limits for gambling machines. Until now, the minimum stake was 3c and the prize limit was 50c. After the Bill, the figures will rise to 10€ and 750€ respectively.
Are there other opinions about this change?
Just like any other change, there were both positive and negative reactions to the new Bill. Sharon Byrne, who is a spokesperson for the Irish Bookmakers Association, advocates for the quickest possible introduction of the new changes. She hopes that this will be the last step towards enacting the Gambling Controll Bill. She also thinks that it will help to keep in check all betting operators, which will lead to more protection for vulnerable customers.
Barry Grant, who is a part of the organisation Problem Gamblers, also said that these changes can bring only good things. He was also excited about the introduction of the social fund which will help people who suffer from gambling addiction.
Anne Rabbitte, who is a spokesperson for Fianna Fáil’s Children, said that she doesn’t believe this change will be enough. However, she said that she will still support this Bill and do everything in her power to help establish it.
Many gamblers have started to wonder whether this change will negatively impact them, but for now, additional restrictions won’t be included. The only goal of this Bill is to protect the gamblers themselves.