Nationwide bans on gambling commercials and a new Exclusion Register are part of Irish gambling reforms being introduced in the country this year.

Ireland’s government has voted to pass legislation that restricts advertising of gambling products on specific late-night time slots, in an effort to curb the industry’s effects on minors.

Meanwhile, a new register designed to aid those who want to self-exclude from gambling in Ireland will be set up.

The reforms are part of a widespread package to tackle problem gambling in Ireland, although critics say it adversely affects an industry that was hit hard during Covid-19.

What To Expect From Irish Gambling Reform

Ireland is setting up a new watchdog called the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, to be launched in 2023. It will have the power to fine companies as much as €20m ($20.7m) or 10% of annual turnover for breaches to the law. Meanwhile, top company executives could face as much as eight years in prison for overseeing malpractice, operating without a license or violating the law.

Irish gambling
Irish gambling bookmakers won’t be able to advertise between 5:30am and 9pm

The new bill on gambling reform will immediately restrict online and TV advertising of sports betting and casino products to between 9pm and 5:30am. Any ads shown outside of these times will be in breach of the law.

“The ever-changing but technologically advanced nature of the gambling industry means that children and teenagers are more exposed than ever to both overt and subtle gambling advertising,” said Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

“It is important that this is properly regulated to ensure that where gambling is advertised, it is done in a way that minimises harmful influences to young people.”

A National Gambling Exclusion Register will also be created to help those suffering with gambling addiction. People simply need to provide their names and they will be unable to enter gambling premises.

What’s more, children will no longer be allowed onto the premises where gambling takes place. Sports clubs who have members that are minors will be banned from signing gambling sponsorship agreements.

“When gambling becomes a problem for an individual, the impact can be absolutely devastating”, said Taoiseach Micheál Martin. “The steps we are taking today recognise and help protect against that damage.”

Additional Laws

Ireland’s new Gambling Regulation Bill will impose further restrictions, including:

  • Ban on free hospitality
  • Ban on VIP treatment
  • No more free bets or special offers
  • Ban on use of credit cards or credit facilities to gamble
  • Ban on cash machines at sportsbooks and racetracks that don’t serve food and drink

Problem For Betting Companies

The new restrictions have been widely approved by anti-gambling campaigners but bookmakers say it will hit them hard at a time where the economy is still recovering from the shocks of Covid-19.

Indeed, this is a big concern. There are around 800 betting shops in Ireland but every year that figure falls further. Only this summer did Paddy Power close a further 13 bookmakers.

This costs jobs and impacts on the amount of tax revenue individual authorities across the country can raise. However, it appears as though the general trend towards online sports betting and casino play means the future of highstreet bookmakers will dwindle regardless of what laws are in place.

“There are of course many people in our country who enjoy a bet but we must acknowledge and safeguard against the truly awful impact gambling does have on some people, families and communities,” the Taoiseach said.

Joe Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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