EGBA: Ireland should look to EU members as regulatory role models

Irish legislators overseeing the creation of the country’s gambling regulator have made several recommendations, a step welcomed by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA). 

Publishing its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Gambling Regulation Bill earlier this week, the Joint Committee on Justice recommended a pre-watershed ban on gambling advertising.

Further advice on advertising included a proposed evaluation of how to ‘decouple’ sports advertising and gambling advertising, particularly with regards to targeting younger audiences. 

Televised betting marketing is an aspect of Irish betting which has been highlighted by both President Michael Higgins and the Irish Labour Party, with the former stating that there are ‘serious questions’ to be addressed around the issue, whilst the latter has suggested an outright ban.

Deputy James Lawless, Cathaoirleach of the Committee, said: “The Committee has identified several issues and made recommendations on these which are explained in detail in the body of the report. 

“Among the areas identified for further examination include the prevalence and impact of gambling advertising, particularly on young people; measures to protect vulnerable individuals from developing a problem addiction; Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals; and the self-exclusion scheme for gamblers”.

As referenced by Lawless, the Committee also recommended the use of a Domain Name System (DNS) to create a nationwide self-exclusion system and introduction of automated software for more effective age verification. 

Lastly, the legislators noted that the new regulator should ‘apply its new Codes equally to all operators’ to ensure socially responsible business and player protection, and implement background checks to identify any ‘financial vulnerabilities’ faced by new account holders. 

Welcoming the Committee’s proposals for the new regulator’s scope and powers, EGBA observed that Ireland is one of two EU member states to have not introduced a gambling authority. 

In particular, the continental trade body praised the recommendation of equal application of codes, as well as an additional caveat which would see regular data publications on the Irish betting and gaming market. 

Moving forward, EGBA encouraged Irish lawmakers and the government to look to the ‘well established and well-functioning’ regulators of other EU member states to gain insights into best practices.

“We thank the Committee for its report and willingness to gather and consider stakeholder input during its deliberations,” said Maarten Haijer, EGBA Secretary General.

“A collaborative approach is crucially important because it is in the interests of all stakeholders for Ireland to have a well-regulated gambling market. 

“But there is also no need to completely reinvent the wheel: most EU member states already have well-established gambling regulations, and we encourage the Irish authorities to look to these for best practices.” 

EGBA has issued similar statements on previous Irish regulatory updates, but has also expressed concern at a proposed ban on free bets discussed in the country’s media.

The body suggested that bettors who currently take advantage of free bet offers could be pushed towards the black market by such a ban.

The Committee’s latest recommendations will now be sent to Minister of State for Justice, James Browne – the Deputy charged with overseeing the creation of the regulator, the launch of which is expected in 2023 following finalisation of the Bill later this year.

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