The Irish gambling sector is inching towards regulation as long-promised laws finally begin to take shape. The ‘big beast’ regulator in the Irish market will work independently and employ up to 100 people.
David Stanton, the Minister of State responsible for the gambling industry admitted being “frustrated” at the five-year delay in publishing legislation. He also defended the delay, saying that the industry changed in this duration enormously. He was pointing at the rise of online betting, a majority of which is being offered by offshore companies.
Stanton also talked about the new regulator in the market, saying that the office will also deal with underage gambling, sponsorship, advertising, promotions, and gambling addiction. It would also oversee online offerings in the sector including continuous betting, virtual betting, and games.
Stanton also noted that real concerns in the industry need to be addressed, pointing out that internet gambling could make one lose their house “overnight.” His focus is on online gambling, advertising, and glamorization of gambling. He has also talked about his concerns about children being “groomed” into gambling using online games. The new laws will investigate this matter and prohibit activities that prime children into gambling. Stanton has also expressed his concern over “loot boxes” where players are asked for money to acquire a new defense or skill in an online game.
The Irish gaming, betting and gambling industries are currently regulated by arcane laws, most specifically the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, and the Betting Act of 1931. The government admits that both acts are outdated but doesn’t seem to be working quickly to replace them. Stanton noted that he intends to make amendments to the 1956 act to include online gaming options.
The amendments will be followed with a comprehensive Gambling Control Bill’s draft, after which the full bill will be made. Stanton expects both the bills to be published in the upcoming year. If his timeline of events goes as expected, the bill will pass through Oireachtas and will be enacted in 2020 at the earliest.