Ireland has been a gambling hub for decades, being the home for many top gambling brands, and traditionally being a provider of horse racing, one of the most popular sports to bet on. With new reforms on gambling regulation on the horizon, will this change the way you gamble in Ireland? Is it going to impact bookmakers in a meaningful way?
What Reforms Are On The Table For Irish Gambling?
There hasn’t been any meaningful reforms to Irish gambling since 2015, when online betting became a popular pastime for the nation. However, now there is a Gambling Regulation Bill being proposed, headed by Minister of State for Law Reform, James Browne.
There are several meaningful changes that are proposed in this bill, which would have an impact on the gambling industry as a whole in Ireland. The idea is to protect problem gamblers and children, by restricting how gambling is advertised and carried out in the country. These reforms include:
Changes to gambling advertising: One of the biggest changes proposed is that to advertisement of gambling brands. Restrictions to gambling advertising during watershed hours would be implemented, in order to protect children. Search, no advertising should be made for gambling between the hours of 5:30 am and 9:00 pm every day. That will include online advertising as well.
Restrictions to special offers: The reform also aims to restrict the kinds of offers that gambling brands often give to their members. This includes special offers for joining up with a site, VIP offers, and so on.
Restricting certain websites: If a gambling brand that is not based in Ireland wants to operate in the country, their site will have to comply with the proposed laws. If they do not do so, the site can be blocked within the country, to avoid Irish people accessing it.
Implementation of a Social Impact Fund: Another key feature of this bill is the implementation of the Social Impact Bill. This is intended to be funded via a levy on the industry as a whole, and will be used to educate and create awareness around problem gambling. It also will be used to help treat those who are struggling with problem gambling. It is worth noting that any charitable or voluntary organisation that is licensed for gambling will not be subjected to the levy.
Restrictions on credit card betting: In this bill, credit card betting will be restricted on all gambling sites. This is a very similar to a similar restriction that was placed on UK gambling sites.
The Impacts On Irish Bookmakers
As you can imagine, these potential reforms could have long reaching effects on the Irish gambling market. Right now, the industry is mostly self-regulated, and is currently very much a popular market. In fact, the gambling industry is now worth up to 8 billion EUR per year. That figure comes in the form of both sports betting and online casino gambling and as seen with Betfree’s Online Casino section, they show just how many brands are out there.
With the introduction of such laws, it can be argued that bookmakers will see real dents in their profits. Especially true when it comes to the restrictions on advertising for new members. As so many companies work with different sports and sports clubs in order to advertise, that could lead to a loss of revenue to these clubs as well.
Also, there will need to consider the new levy that will be implemented for the Social Impact Fund. That will take its toll again on their profits, and potentially really cause issues.
It is also worth pointing out that thieves laws would impact regular gamblers as well. While the laws are meant to protect those huge struggle with problem gambling, it does mean that those who gamble responsibly will miss out. That is especially true when you consider that sites will be restricted in what kind of offers they can give their members.
Will The Bill Be Effective?
There is no denying that this bill has severe restrictive effects on the gambling industry as a whole. However, would that be worth it if it achieved its aim of protecting those who struggle with gambling?
It can be argued that if somebody wants to gamble, they will always find ways to do so. In this online age, it’s fairly simple for somebody to circumvent laws to access gambling sites should they choose to.
There is also the argument that this bill will protect children from gambling. While a watershed law would ensure that they would not see advertisements, the fact is that many children have their own online devices, and they will get around adult controls to see what they shouldn’t be seeing online.
The proposed bill by the Irish government is very restrictive towards online gambling. If it were to go through, bookmakers would struggle against the new restrictions that are in place. However, there are arguments that say the bill would not achieve its goals, so it is not certain whether it will go through.