Irish Minister of Justice Helen McEntee has said that the launch of the country’s overhauled gambling regulatory framework will have to take a back seat until at least 2021. The mulled legislation is focusing on the entire specter of gambling products.
Ireland’s Gaming and Lotteries Bill 2019 was signed into law in December 2019 and it will come with ushering in a variety of new measures, including limits on gaming machines and maximum prizes thereof.
Originally, the bill was expected to arrive much sooner, at some point in 2020, as Minister of State David Stanton confirmed in May 2019 that the legislation should have been arriving within 18 months. However, the Justice Department has notified lawmakers and the government that it would need until at least 2021 to launch the new regulatory framework.
Ireland is also facing a surge in the number of online bets and, some fear, a rise in gambling addiction incidence. Deposit limits were implemented for the National Lottery to enhance consumer safety back in April.
The scope of the bill is quite broad, too, and it will aim at regulating public safety and consumers well-being, as well as covering both brick-and-mortar and online gambling activities. The bill will similarly focus on regulating advertising, gambling websites, and apps. McEntee had this to say:
“The Program for Government, gives a clear commitment to establish a gambling regulator focused on public safety and wellbeing, covering gambling online and in person, and the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.”
Work Is Underway, but the Timeline May Change
She reassured that work was underway to make it possible for the department to roll out the new legislation and provide further guidance for the development of the Irish gambling industry. All regulatory efforts should culminate in 2021, McEntee reassured, although she did mention that this schedule is subject to changes.
The main challenges she saw were the size, complexity and technological challenges in the gambling industry, making the fixes introduced now a little hard to predict in terms of whether they would be still up-to-date in a ten year’s period.
McEntee concluded by noting that “it will be important that the regulator will be established on a strong footing and adequately resourced to carry out this important task.” Regulatory overhaul is not only afoot in Ireland, as Spain is preparing to suspend partnerships between sports clubs and gambling companies.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has seen a string of moves this year, including the ban of credit cards for the purposes of gambling. The Betting and Gaming Council, a UK-based company recently hailed the positive impact the whistle-to-whistle ban has had on exposure to gambling products.