Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar has confirmed a new independent gambling regulator will not be established for the next 18 months.
The Cabinet had earlier given the green light to establish an independent regulator and to implement more stringent regulations.
These developments stemmed from a motion to update old laws which the Prime Minster deemed outdated.
Ireland’s current gambling laws are almost 60 years old and the Government published a report to form an interdepartmental working group which aims to reform these laws.
There were strong demands from anti-gambling groups to impose strong regulations but Varadkar refused to rush the establishment of a gambling authority, stating the it made more sense to take a longer time to set things up right than to rush it in two months and get it wrong.
Proposal For Reforms On The Way
Minister of State David Stanton who is currently responsible for the gambling industry, will publish the Gaming and Lotteries Amendment Bill of 2019 with approval from the Cabinet. The purpose behind this new bill is to modernize the existing laws.
Stanton is focused on stopping underage gambling and seeks to standardize the age limit to participate in all types of gambling activities. The current age limit is 18 years old. The Bill also increases the stake and prize limits for gaming machines to €10 from 3c and €750 from 50c. The current limits have been implemented since 1956.
Restoring Integrity To Sports Betting
One of the key recommendations of the working group’s report is for the new regulating body to address the integrity of Irish sports events. There has been great concern regarding possible “match fixing” and the new regulating body should have a unit specifically assigned to address this.
The blueprint for this unit will be modelled after the one in UK. The report found that it was important for ‘integrity in sports’ to be emphasized and also for an anti-money laundering unit to be set up.
The new gambling regulatory body will also be responsible for the issuance of all permits and licenses for all categories of gaming which include lotteries, sports betting, gaming machines, casinos and online gambling. Based on the new gaming regulations, the direct licensing duties of the Revenue Commissioners, local authorities, An Garda Síochána, Horse Racing Ireland would be removed.
The regulatory body could also come out with a new code governing gambling advertisements, sponsorships and promotion. Ireland’s gambling industry is expected to face a number of new changes in the next couple of years.