Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI): The appointment of the CEO Designate
On Thursday 8 September 2022, the Minister of State with responsibility for Law Reform, James Browne TD, announced the appointment of Anne Marie Caulfield as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Designate of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI). In this announcement, Mr Browne noted that the early appointment of the CEO will ensure that there is no delay in the new regulator becoming operational, following the commencement of the legislation. The announcement can be found here.
Background to the appointment
The appointment of the CEO designate is an important milestone in the future establishment of the GRAI. Ms Caulfield was appointed following an open, international competition which involved widespread consultation with stakeholders. Ms Caulfield's role as CEO Designate will be to oversee the regulation of all forms of in-person and online gambling in Ireland with the exception of the National Lottery which will remain regulated by its own dedicated regulator.
This is in contra distinction to an earlier proposal that had suggested the amalgamation of the role of the National Lottery regulator with the GRAI.
Ms Caulfield has substantial regulatory policy and operational regulatory experience. She held the position of Director (CEO) of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) for eight years from 2008 to 2016, a statutory body responsible for the regulation of residential tenancies in Ireland. In addition it is worth noting that Ms Caulfield garnered significant administrative experience during her time at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform as Head of Structural Funds, Cohesion Policy & North-South Co-operation.
Resourcing the GRAI
Minister Browne has noted that Ms Caulfield is already working closely with his Department to identify staffing and resourcing needs and to develop procedures for how the Authority will function once operational. At an earlier stage of this process, it was proposed that the GRAI would recruit 80 to 100 personnel. As the first and primary hire to the GRAI, the new CEO will clearly be playing a key role in building up the resources to staff the GRAI.
Commenting on Ms Caulfield's appointment, Mr Browne added "Anne Marie’s preparatory work over the coming months, in parallel with the drafting and passage of the enabling legislation, will ensure that the Regulatory Authority will be ready to hit the ground running upon its establishment."
CEO approach to the role
Speaking about her new role, Ms Caulfield said "It is a great privilege to be appointed as CEO Designate of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland. Effective and efficient regulation of this sector is crucial and I relish the challenge of putting that framework in place. The Authority must be built on a foundation of robust legislation and I welcome the progress to date of the draft Gambling Regulation Bill".
Ms Caulfield has added that she looks forward to developing a close working relationship with all of the stakeholders in the sector, Gambling Regulators elsewhere in the EU, and with Department of Justice officials.
As can be seen from her initial comments, the new CEO appears very willing to engage with businesses in the sector. When engaging with the new regulator, observance of the lobbying legislation in force in Ireland, will need to be kept in mind.
A supporting programme board
The press release also details that the Department of Justice has established a Programme Board to ensure that the legislation, and the operational preparations for the GRAI, are progressed in parallel.
This interesting development should help to ensure, together with the early appointment of the CEO Designate, that the time between the enactment of the legislation and the date on which the regulator commences operations, will be minimised.
The press release did not identify any members of the Programme Board but it is clear that the Government is eager to facilitate the commencement of the activities of the Gambling Authority as soon as possible.
Reaction to the appointment
News of the appointment has been welcomed. Sharon Byrne, Chairperson of the Irish Bookmakers' Association (IBA), has said that the organisation looks forward to working with Ms Caulfield when she takes up her role. Ms Byrne commented "this represents a major milestone in the development of the regulation of the sector, which the IBA has called for over many years".
Following the publication of the General Scheme in October 2021 (here), the next step in gambling regulation will be the publication of the Gambling Regulation Bill. The Bill is expected to be published this autumn and once it is enacted into law, it is anticipated that the Gambling Regulatory Authority will commence operations – this is expected to be in 2023.
We also await with interest news of the appointees to the Programme Board, whom it appears will be key figures in influencing the content and framework for the new legislation and the new regulatory authority.
We will continue to keep you updated on key developments. This week's announcement signals a key step in gambling regulatory reform with the new Regulator to play a key role in that process.
For further information in relation to this topic, please contact Joe Kelly, Partner, Katie O'Connor, Partner or any member of ALG's Betting, Gaming and Licensing team.
Date published: 9 September 2022