Justice Minister Helen McEntee shared that the establishment of a special gambling body to regulate the €8-billion gambling industry in Ireland would hardly happen until at least 2021.
Early in 2019, the Cabinet gave the green light to a plan aimed at the establishment of a gambling industry watchdog. At the time, the authorities also published the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill that was aimed at providing the long-awaited modernisation of the country’s gambling legislation dating back to 1956.
At the time when the announcement was made, the Cabinet gave its approval for the establishment of an independent regulator, with some lawmakers claiming that it could be 18 months before the body is actually created. The sector gladly welcomed the news, as the sector has been calling for the establishment of the much-needed regulatory body. Unfortunately, the process has been delayed.
About a week ago, when she was asked about the status of the legislative process associated with the establishment of the regulator’s office, Ms McEntee explained that things were not going as initially planned and there would e a further delay. As she explained, the Government remains committed to the decision to create a gambling watchdog focused on public safety no matter if it comes to online or in-person gambling. The new gambling regulatory body is also set to regulate gambling advertising on apps and websites.
Planned Changes for Gambling regulator Already Underway
Ms McEntee confirmed that work associated with the planned changes on the development of the regulatory body has already been underway in her department so that the required modern licensing and regulatory provisions are available for the Irish gambling sector. She further noted that the process could be finalised in 2021.
As explained by Ms McEntee, the modern gambling sector is getting larger and more complex every year, not to mention the fact that technology in the industry is subject to quick development, and keeping the outdated legislation unchanged is not helping anyone. This is why it is important that the new regulator is established on a strong footing with the country’s legislation being changed in correspondence with the market and its development throughout the years.
The Cabinet has already signed a commencement order under which the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act is to come into force on December 1st, 2020. However, it now turns out that both the industry and the Irish customers will be forced to wait some more time in order for the regulator’s office to be established. According to plans, the watchdog is set to be funded via levies imposed on the gambling sector. These levies are still expected to be set up.
In comparison, in the UK, the gambling sector has been regulated by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), an independent watchdog that has been aimed at ensuring fair, transparent and legal gambling operations in the country.