Problem gambling has become quite a problem in the region of Great Britain over the last few years. The situation is no different when it comes to Ireland. Due to the increased number of users affected by the harmful effects of problem gambling behaviour, three years ago, the Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter announced that the Government has approved the General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill 2013.
The latter is expected to be officially rolled out in January 2017 and is expected to radically change the gambling environment in Ireland. Through the Bill, a special measure of regulation is planned to be imposed on the industry that has been expanding its dangers and harmful effects on players of different age groups over the last few years. The Gambling Control Bill 2013 offers a new piece of legislation in the sector and provides authorities, gambling operators and users with an exhaustive new framework focused on licensing and regulation of the gambling industry.
The Gambling Control Bill 2013 is believed as a legislation part that is strong enough to deal with the current situation and really make local bookmakers comply with the current regulatory rules. Since Minister Shatter has announced the Government’s intentions to roll out the Bill, the competent authorities have been working on completing the drafting.
After the Gambling Control Bill comes into effect, it is to replace current legislation, and more specifically the Betting Act of 1931 as well as the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956. The implementation of the new Bill is to consolidate the legal basis in the region and also provide more efficient administrative procedures that will result in improved control on gambling operations.
The proposed Bill and its Scheme are based on a number of gambling regulation principles in order for the new piece of legislation to ensure fairness and transparency at all gambling operations conduct. In addition, it is to be aimed at protection of vulnerable individuals from risks associated with gambling and problem gambling behaviour and is to be also focused on consumer choice. The proposals in the Scheme are also focused on avoiding some circumstances where gambling operations in the region could assist any criminal activity.
The licensing procedures and their regulation are also included in the Bill’s Scheme. The Minister for Justice and Equality is proposed in the Scheme as the only authority that would be able to issue licenses and regulate gambling activities in the region. As such, the Minister will have the power to issue licenses for all current forms of gambling, including land-based and online operations. The monitoring of the industry will also be carried out by the Minister.
In the light of recent criticism over the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), the new piece of legislation is to also fully ban FOBTs in the region, as it reflects the increased concerns of the Government aboit the harmful effects of these machines on players, and more specifically young people and more vulnerable individuals.