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As far back as 2013, the government was seeking to create new laws around gambling. Alamy Stock Photo

After years of delays, Govt appoints the first ever gambling regulator to oversee sector

Campaigners have long said the industry cannot be allowed to self-regulate.

AFTER YEARS OF delays, Ireland’s very first CEO of the new Gambling Regulatory Authority has been appointed. 

The Programme for Government committed to setting up a gambling regulator, which will have responsibility for regulating both in-person and online gambling, gambling advertising, websites and apps.

Provision will also be made by the gambling authority to regulate in respect of the protection of vulnerable persons.

A social fund will also be established to support research, information campaigns and even treatment. This fund will be supported by levies on betting companies.

Campaigners have long said the industry cannot be allowed to self-regulate, and that Ireland should introduce legislation to regulate an industry that has seen revenues skyrocket in recent decades.

Slow movement

The Irish government has been very slow to regulate the gambling arena. 

As far back as 2013, the government was seeking to create new laws around gambling in Ireland and a regulator to oversee it.

In 2005, the UK Gambling Commission was set up, however it has only been in the last two years that there has been movement. 

The Minister of State with responsibility for Law Reform James Browne today announced the appointment of Anne Marie Caulfield as the new CEO of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland.

It is expected that the authority will commence operations as soon as possible after the draft Gambling Regulation Bill is enacted, with the authority to become operational in 2023.

The minister said the appointment of a CEO of the authority “is an important milestone”in achieving greater regulation of the gambling industry in Ireland.

“This is an incredibly important piece of work from a social perspective and will make a real difference in preventing harm to people from problem gambling, but also to ensuring that modern and effective licensing and regulatory measures are in place for the industry,” said Browne.

He said the appointment of the CEO in parallel with the drafting and passage of the the legislation, will ensure that authority can “hit the ground running”.

Caulfield, who has held a number of senior civil service positions as well as previously holding the role of Director of the Residential Tenancies Board, said “effective and efficient regulation of this sector is crucial and I relish the challenge of putting that framework in place”.

Labour senator Mark Wall welcomed the appointment, but said political ambition is needed to protect problem gamblers. He called for all gambling ads to be banned, stating that “Government has a real opportunity to be global leaders in this space if they just have the ambition to do so”.

Conor Grant, chief executive of Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment’s UK and Ireland division, welcomed the news, stating that as a “long-standing advocate of evidence-based measures and a well-resourced regulator, Flutter welcomes the appointment of Anne Marie Caulfield as Chief Executive Designate of the Gambling Regulatory Authority”.

“This represents clear progress towards the establishment of the Authority, which should have broad powers to respond to the dynamic and fast-paced nature of our industry,” he said.

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