Bill Aims to Establish a New Independent Regulatory Body, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI), to Oversee Both in-Person and Online Gambling

January 29, 2024 | Legislature

DUBLIN, Ireland (January 29, 2024) — The following summary outlines the current situation regarding gambling in Ireland and the efforts being made by the government to address the issue through the Gambling Regulation Bill.

Current Situation:

  • A report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in October revealed that one in thirty Irish adults have a gambling problem, which is ten times higher than the figure found in 2019. An additional 7.1% of adults show moderate evidence of problem gambling.
  • Ireland ranks fourth in Europe for having the highest gambling losses and fourteenth globally.
  • The lax laws surrounding gambling in Ireland have been identified as contributing to the high rates of gambling-related problems.
  • The government has responded to these issues with the Gambling Regulation Bill, set to come into effect in the coming months.

Gambling Regulation Bill Highlights:

  • The bill aims to establish a new independent regulatory body, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI), to oversee both in-person and online gambling.
  • The legislation includes tighter restrictions on gambling advertising, websites, and apps.
  • A proposed self-exclusion register would allow individuals to prohibit themselves from betting with any online gambling operator licensed in Ireland.

Concerns and Industry Response:

  • Flutter CEO Peter Jackson questioned the ESRI’s findings, expressing doubt about the extent of the gambling problem in Ireland.
  • The industry supports regulation but raises concerns about specific elements of the bill, including staking limits, inducements, and advertising restrictions.
  • The proposed €10 staking limit and €3,000 limit for bonuses or winnings are contested as not practical for certain games.
  • Advertising restrictions between 5:30 am and 9 pm have raised concerns among gambling operators and representatives of the Irish horse racing industry.
  • The horse racing industry claims that the bill could make their operations economically unviable and negatively impact jobs and revenue.

Charity Concerns:

  • Charities in Ireland express concerns that the categorization of raffles and lotteries as gambling activities in the legislation could inhibit fundraising opportunities.
  • The Charities Institute Ireland estimates a potential loss of €150,000 per year due to these categorizations.

Expectations and Outlook:

  • The final Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 is expected to come into effect this year, although no specific date has been announced.
  • Experts on gambling addiction and recovered addicts hope that the regulations will improve Ireland’s gambling culture and protect vulnerable members of society.
  • The implementation of appropriate services and regulations is seen as crucial for making long-term improvements.

It’s clear that the gambling industry, charities, and the government are engaged in a complex dialogue regarding the regulations, with each group expressing its concerns and priorities. The effectiveness of the bill in addressing gambling-related issues will likely depend on the balance achieved between regulation and industry interests.

SOURCE: LI Contributor.
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