Ireland has had somewhat of a strange set-up over the years when it comes to its stance on gambling. While there are both land-based and online casinos to enjoy, what has been lacking has been any regulatory body that had the power to oversee these. The country had relied upon laws that were almost prehistoric and, as technology has developed, these have proven to be completely ineffective.
These outdated laws were written and brought into being long before the internet was even thought of, let alone online casinos being a thing. With this new breed of gambling, there are those in Ireland who have long argued that change is overdue. What has been in place is well worth taking a look at. Why? Well, you’ll soon see how complex the legalities of gambling in Ireland have been and the issues with any form of enforcement.
For a long time now there has been talk of change being around the corner with the introduction of a new regulatory body. The step that has been taken with the appointment of the first gambling regulator shows that this change is finally happening. What does it mean for the future of gambling in Ireland and will we even notice any difference? Let’s take a look.
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Who is Ireland’s gambling regulator?
The honour of being the first ever person appointed to this role has fallen to Anne Marie Caulfield. While she may have no experience in the gambling sector she is still a name that is recognisable to those in Ireland. She landed the role having succeeded in the open competition that was launched but between 2008 and 2016 Caulfield was the head of the Residential Tenancies Board. She has also previously had responsibility for executing briefs while being a part of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Caulfield’s appointment has been welcomed in the majority of quarters. There is a real feeling that the upcoming legislation is much needed and that the appointment of Caulfield is a sure signal that this is all set to be a reality.
What does this appointment mean for gambling in Ireland right now?
When you look at land-based casinos, as well as the best online casinos, the expectation would be that the appointment of Caulfield would usher in immediate change. However, that is unlikely to be the case. This appointment has been made prior to the legislation being passed that will establish the regulatory authority in the first place. The thinking behind this is that the moment the legislation has been improved, the authority will be set to get to work straight away.
This further delay may well be a cause of concern for many of the campaigners in Ireland who are more than keen to see changes being brought in. For now, it will be local Government that maintains responsibility for all that takes place in the gambling sector. The only slight appeasement is that there has been a commitment to a stricter, more adequate, overseeing of existing laws.
When will the authority be up and running?
Despite the fact that efforts to reform gambling legislation date back around a decade, we still have another year to wait before we are the new Irish Gambling Regulator comes into being. We’ve now been informed that it’s likely to be the autumn of 2023 when everything will be up and running with full powers allocated
The huge frustration has to be the fact that, for far too long, any progress just seemed to stall. It was the back end of 2021 when Ireland’s Junior Justice Minister James Browne, took the bull by the horns and began the push again. It was at this time that Browne published the general scheme of the new gambling legislation. Just as Caulfield was appointed, Browne was keen to stress that lawmakers are hard at work ensuring that the legislation is ready in time.
What will be the role of the new body?
Caulfield has been given a clear brief in terms of what she, and the new body, are expected to achieve. There is great pressure in terms of achieving social change. Many campaigners in Ireland have had concerns in relation to gambling addiction and other harm that may be linked to the pastime. People expect the new authority to make real inroads here and to make a difference. Just one way of tackling this could be limiting things like welcome bonuses that entice new players into a casino.
This new body is also designed to be effective within a new era. As we have seen, the current legislation is vastly outdated and is unable to deal with the changes that the gambling industry has undergone. New legislation, plus a new body to monitor this, will bring Ireland up to date and able to manage ongoing developments.
Will the regulator have powers?
In short, yes, the new regulator will have powers that allow it to enforce the new legislation. These enforcement powers will go hand in hand with the protection of problem gamblers that we have just looked at. What will this mean in practical terms for casinos going forward? Well, much can probably be taken by considering the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
The UKGC is seen as one of the leading authorities when it comes to the enforcement of gambling legislation. Whilst this organisation has faced its own issues along the way, by looking at its setup and the powers that it possesses, you can probably get a good idea of how things are set to work in Ireland.
Just how successful Caulfield will be only time can tell. What is for sure is that she has a great number behind her. Those that are keen to see a complete overhaul of the laws in Ireland to ensure that gambling is only ever seen for exactly what it’s meant to be: a hobby that exists as a form of entertainment and not a way to try and make money.