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Irish Gambling Regulation Bill receives approval

Ireland gambling industry overhaul

On Tuesday, Ireland authorized the publication of the reformed Gambling Regulation Bill, which would usher in more comprehensive and contemporary regulatory procedures.

This revised bill, which is aimed at providing a safer gambling ecosystem for both gamblers and gambling operators, will herald a new licensing structure and bring up-to-date obsolete policies on gambler standards, operator conduct, safer gambling, and other areas entirely.

As stated by an incumbent in the Irish government, Micheál Martin, it is crucial that gambling laws are up to date to fit the modern progression of the gambling industry.

“This approval by Cabinet is significant and the publication of the Bill is unquestionably a major milestone,” Martin said.

“It is an important and necessary piece of legislation, designed to meet the challenges of gambling responsibly in 21st century Ireland.

“This long awaited and much needed Bill takes a responsible approach to balancing the freedom to gamble with the safeguards to protect people from falling prey to addiction. This Bill provides a clearer framework for operators and for consumers.”

According to the provisions of the bill, the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA), which is a relatively new body, will be tasked with regulating the gambling industry in Ireland once the bill is signed into law. One of its responsibilities will be to design an Irish gambling self-exclusion register, which will be made available to gamblers.

The GRA will be led by the agency’s first Chief Executive, Anne Marie Caulfield, who will commence in that capacity from next year once everything has been put in place.

The bill did not exclude one of the most sensitive parts of gambling, which is advertising. As addressed, ads will be prohibited between 5:30am and 9pm. Media outlets that fail to comply will face a penalty. Other new guidelines regarding gambling restrictions will be controlled by the GRA. Among other things, the bill will also ban the usage of credit cards.

The Minister of State for Law Reform, James Browne, gave his two cents on the reform, stating that the safety of all gamblers is of the utmost importance to their ministry.

“Reforming gambling legislation and regulation in Ireland is a key commitment in our Programme for Government and Justice Plan, and has been one of my key priorities as Minister. I am pleased to have gotten the draft legislation to this point, and look forward now to it being published and brought through the Houses to enactment,” he said.

“This legislation will establish a gambling regulator which will be robust with a focus on prevention of harm to people vulnerable to problem gambling and particularly protecting children, and also a focus on enforcement of a strong, modern regulatory framework for the gambling industry.”

Browne also gave a strict warning to potential operators, adding that violating the rules and operating without a license will have severe consequences.

“Operators who provide gambling activities without a gambling licence issued by the Authority, or who do not operate in accordance with the provisions of their licence could, if convicted, face up to eight years imprisonment and/or a fine at the discretion of the courts,” Browne continued.

“Strict regulation of gambling advertising will be a priority area for the Authority. Under the legislation, advertising intended to appeal to children will be prohibited, as will advertising that promotes excessive or compulsive gambling.”

Other governmental bodies have also expressed their delight in the new development. According to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, this reform will procure child safety and also protect gamblers in ways that it has not before.

“As Minister with the responsibility for Children and Youth I welcome government’s approval to publish this new legislation which places a particular focus on prevention of harm to people vulnerable to problem gambling, children and young people,” O’Gorman said.

“The ever-changing but technologically advanced nature of the gambling industry means that children and teenagers are more exposed than ever to both overt and subtle gambling advertising.

“It is important that this is properly regulated to ensure that where gambling is advertised, it is done in a way that minimises harmful influences to young people.”

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