Update on Irish gambling law reform and the establishment of an independent regulator
The publication of long anticipated draft outline legislation to reform Irish gambling laws and establish an independent gambling regulator, now appears to be imminent. In a response to a parliamentary question last week Minister of State at the Department of Justice, James Browne indicated that the General Scheme of the Gambling Bill is "at an advanced stage" and would be published "shortly". The proposed new gambling laws were also considered by Irish government ministers at a cabinet meeting yesterday, 19 October 2021.
As well as introducing a comprehensive new licensing and regulatory regime for gambling operators offering their services to Irish customers, the proposed legislation is reported to include the following:
- Regulatory powers to revoke or suspend gambling licences, with authority to freeze accounts and block incoming payments to providers.
- Regulatory powers to issue codes on gambling advertising, including on their frequency, airing time and the portrayal of children.
- A ban on free bets, meaning that operators will no longer be able to offer them as an incentive for new players or as a loyalty bonus for existing players.
- The establishment of a self-exclusion register for individuals who wish to restrict themselves from gambling for months at a time.
- The establishment of a social impact fund with licensed gambling operators being required to pay a levy directly to the fund. This fund's income will then be used to support gambling addiction programmes as well as funding gambling awareness campaigns.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice outlined its targeted timeframes for the reform of Irish gambling law and the establishment of a regulator in its 'Justice Plan 2021'. This envisaged that the position of the fully independent gambling regulator would be advertised in September of this year, with a view to being fully operational by early 2023 (when the planned legislation is expected to come into force). It also indicated that the General Scheme would be published in Q3 2021. While there has been some slippage in achieving these timelines, the developments this week would suggest that progress is certainly being made.
We will continue to keep you updated on key developments in this area as they occur.
For further information please contact Joe Kelly, Partner, Katie O'Connor, Partner, Denise Daly Byrne, Associate or any member of A&L Goodbody's Betting, Gaming & Licensing team.
Date published: 20 October 2021
 For previous ALG commentary on the establishment of a gambling regulator, please see the following legal update
 For previous ALG commentary on the Justice Plan 2021, please see the following publication