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Casinos, gaming machines and online gambling to be overseen by independent regulator

The Gambling Control Bill, which has been gathering dust in Leinster House, is to be updated.

Image: Shutterstock/Georgejmclittle

AN INDEPENDENT REGULATOR for the gambling industry is to be established under a proposed new law.

Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton briefed Cabinet today and requested approval to draft a new general scheme of the Gambling Control Bill.

A proposed set of laws to deal with the issue of gambling have been gathering dust on the shelf in the Department of Justice since 2013.

The Gambling Control Bill is a 90-page document covering numerous aspects around the gambling sector, including the restrictions on gambling advertising.

The 2013 Bill also recommended a regulator for the sector be established within the Department of Justice – however, this will now be amended.

Instead, it’s proposed that an independent statutory authority will be established to regulate the gambling industry in Ireland. Currently, the industry is to a large degree self-governing.

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Duties of the regulator will be the overseeing of advertising, sports sponsorship, access for young people, a social fund for access to treatment and also prevalent information and research.

Due to the four year delay, a government spokesperson said the Bill needs updating if it is to address the changes in the gambling sector over the last few years, adding that the main concern is to “protect consumers and vulnerable people”.

The Bill will also include changes to the licensing system in Ireland, as well dealing with the issue of gaming machines.

It also includes measures to regulate online gambling, the regulation of casinos and the protection of children against gambling.

The minister of State said that a large body of work has already been done, and that he will consult with stakeholders on the revised general scheme of the Bill.

The bookies say they also want the industry regulated.

They have also they want overseas online companies to be put on an even footing with indigenous Irish operators, with those companies subject to the same scrutiny and obligations as those with physical shops in Ireland.

Sharon Byrne is chairperson of the Irish Bookmakers Association told TheJournal.ie last year that its members, which includes Paddy Power, Boylesports and Ladbrokes, are in support of legislation coming through.

While there is no specific timeframe for this legislation, Minister Stanton said it is a priority of his to deliver on gambling regulation this year.

Read: Leo Varadkar still won’t say how he’ll campaign in an abortion referendum>

Read: Long-delayed laws could restrict gambling advertising. So why do bookies want it?>

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