British bookmaker William Hill has turned down requests to sign up to the Irish Bookmakers Association’s (IBA) Safer Gambling Code that has already been approved by gambling operators in the country. The Code calls for gambling advertising to be suspended from live television, and, even more importantly, for players to be no longer able to use credit cards to fund gambling transactions.
However, the bookmaker’s refusal to sign up to the Safer Gambling Code threatens to cause a major disagreement in the local gambling sector, as it has undermined the IBA’s efforts to improve gambling companies’ behaviours prior to the significant changes expected to be presented by the Government in the weeks to come. As part of the measures aimed at providing better regulation on the sector, the Irish Government is set to establish an independent regulatory body to oversee the industry.
The refusal has been confirmed by a spokesman of William Hill who claimed that the bookmaker did not sign up to the aforementioned code of practice because it was not a member of the Irish Bookmakers Association.
The operator’s spokesman explained that it is not possible for William Hill to become an IBA member because, for the time being, the body only represents retail gambling companies that offer their services in Ireland. He further noted that the British gambling giant would explore the option of joining the Code in case the situation with IBA’s membership changed.
IBA Encourages Gambling Operators to Adopt More Customer Protection Practices
After making a refusal to join IBA’s Safer Gambling Code, William Hill shared that the company is looking forward to seeing the Irish Government’s evidence-led review of the country’s Gambling Act. The British bookmaker further noted that it will make sure it complies with the updated regulations of the new state legislation.
Even though she has not named specifically and directly William Hill or any of its subsidiaries, Sharon Byrne, who is the Chairperson for the IBA, highlighted that all other gambling companies that offer their services in Ireland, including the ones that are only operating online, have signed up to the Code. Ms Byrne explained that she was not able to force legislative measures on anyone, but noted that by recommending codes of practice, the IBA ensured greater involvement and adoption from its members.
As it is not a state regulatory body, the Irish Bookmakers Association could not enforce any of its codes or practices on gambling companies and could only encourage its members to adopt recommended practices associated with GDPR, consumer protection, anti-money laundering, etc.
The IBA’s Safer Gambling Code is currently considered extremely important for the local gambling sector, as it leads and supports the industry bring some changes for the better. The Association has claimed that by suspending gambling advertising on television, and more specifically so-called “whistle-to-whistle” ads aired during live sports events, and by banning the use of credit cards in gambling-related transactions the industry will improve its practices and will better protect customers.