The Government is to introduce measures to tackle problem gambling in addition to establishing a gaming regulator, it has been announced.
The Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Browne TD, has today published the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill.
The Programme for Government gives a clear commitment to establish a gambling regulator focused on public safety and well-being, covering gambling online and in person, and the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.
The Scheme was approved by Government earlier this week.
Minister Browne said: "The publication of the General Scheme is an important milestone towards the effective regulation of gambling in Ireland under the new, independent statutory body – the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland. The Scheme sets out the framework and legislative basis for how we will do this”
"We all accept that the current legislative framework is fragmented, outdated, lacks a coherent licensing and regulatory approach, and is in need of significant reform. Now is the time to finally address this issue comprehensively, once and for all.
"I believe that the legislative underpinning of this new Authority will be essential to its success and I am committed to taking this forward. There will be opportunities for further stakeholder engagement and input as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process," he said.
The Scheme takes into account the recommendations of expert reports including the Inter-Departmental Working Group Report (published in March 2019); analysis of the regulatory approaches in other jurisdictions; and the nature of gambling in the State.
It also recognises the ever-increasing impact of technology on gambling and addresses the proliferation of gambling related advertising.
The Authority will have among its key objectives:
Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way for companies to make decisions in certainty;
Requiring safeguards to address problem gambling including in relation to gambling advertising;
and Preventing gambling from being a source or support to crime.
"The Authority will have the necessary enforcement powers for licensing and to enable it to take appropriate and focused action where providers are failing to comply with the provisions of this legislation," Minister Browne said.
“I have established a Programme Board within my own Department to ensure that the legislation and the operational preparations are progressed in parallel so that the Authority commences operations as soon as possible after enactment. There is a pathway mapped for this legislation progressing, which will facilitate the Authority being established and operational in 2023. ”
The legislation also includes measures and safeguards to address problem gambling, the protection of children, to ensure public safety and well-being, and consumer protection, Minister Browne said.
“While gambling activity is enjoyed safely and responsibly by the majority of people in Ireland, we are of course all aware of the ill-effects of problem gambling for individuals, their families and for society as a whole.
"That is why we are establishing a Social Impact Fund under the Authority to finance research and information, to support public education and awareness raising measures in relation to problem gambling and to appropriately support problem gambling treatment activities by relevant health professionals.
"An advisory committee will be established to assist and advise the Authority on the administration and management of the Fund," he added.
As part of Budget 2022, €500,000 has been allocated to meet the costs of appointing the CEO designate as well as non-pay related costs in establishing the Authority. This is added to the initial seed funding of €200,000 in Budget 2021. This €700,000 will cover start-up costs including accommodation and professional services.
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