Led by Minister of State for Law Reform, James Browne, this Bill sets out the framework for a modern, robust regulatory and licensing regime for the gambling sector.
The legislation paves the way for the establishment of a gambling regulator focused on public safety and well-being covering gambling online and in person, with the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.
The Bill gives legislative underpinning for the new Gambling Regulatory Authority, which will be essential to its success.
Welcoming today’s government decision, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said:
“This approval by Cabinet is significant and the publication of the Bill is unquestionably a major milestone. 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.”
Speaking at the launch of the Bill today, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said:
“At the heart of the Bill is the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, an independent body equipped to enforce regulation of the gambling sector.
“The Bill will ensure that the Gambling Regulatory Authority can appropriately, meaningfully and swiftly respond to ongoing and future developments in the gambling sector. The focus on preventing harm is of vital importance. As a former Minister of Mental Health and as a local representative, I have seen the damaging impact gambling addiction can have on people and families, particularly on their mental health.”
The Bill provides for a modern and streamlined approach to gambling licensing activities which will replace the currently fragmented regime. Three types of licences for both in-person and online or remote betting will be introduced:
Business to Consumer Gaming, Betting and Lottery Licences
Business to Business Licences
Gambling licences for Charitable/Philanthropic Causes
Welcoming the government’s decision today, Minister Browne said:
“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.
“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.
“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 to up to 8 years imprisonment and/or a fine at the discretion of the courts.
“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."
A watershed prohibiting gambling advertising at certain times of day (between 5.30am and 9pm) will be introduced:
“In this digital age, to address the particular proliferation of gambling advertising on social media, such advertising shall be prohibited by default.
“The Bill also puts forward certain measures to minimise the ill-effects of gambling. The Bill will establish of a National Gambling Exclusion Register. The Bill prohibits the use of credit credits as a form of payment. The Bill will allow the Authority to prohibit the offer of inducements and promotions.
“A Social Impact Fund will be created and managed by the Authority while being funded from the industry. It will be used to finance initiatives to reduce problem gambling and support awareness–raising and educational measures.”
There is a pathway mapped for the legislation progressing which will facilitate the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland being established and operational in 2023.
Noting the government’s decision today, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman said:
“As Minister with the responsibility for Children and Youth I welcome the 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.
"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.”
The Gambling Regulation Bill sets out the framework and legislative basis for the establishment of a new, independent statutory body – the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (the Authority) – and for a robust regulatory and licensing regime for the gambling sector.
The Bill provides for:
the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland
a new streamlined, simplified and coherent licensing framework that reflects the nature of gambling in the State
the powers of the new Authority to enforce the proposed licensing approach, including provision for administrative sanctions and the prosecution of offences
the ability of the Authority to address the advertisement of gambling across all forms of media and the sponsorship by licence holders
safeguards and protections in relation to problem gambling, and for the protection of children, ensuring public safety and well-being, and consumer protection
the establishment of a Social Impact Fund for the purposes of financing research and information, education and awareness raising measures, and appropriately supporting problem gambling treatment activities by relevant health professionals
The Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland will have appropriate powers to request information, monitor compliance, conduct inspections and investigate any suspected or actual breaches of the statutory obligations on licensees.
The Authority will also have statutory powers to take appropriate enforcement actions against non-compliant providers and to impose sanctions where appropriate. The CEO will have a key role in executing these functions.
The Bill will be published as soon as practicable in line with normal publication procedures after Cabinet approval of a Bill. It will be first issued to members of the Oireachtas.