A long-overdo overhaul in Ireland's gambling landscape may finally be imminent. A bill proposed over five years ago to widespread popularity has been languishing in the Irish government ever since. Will 2019 be the year it finally becomes law?
The Current State of Gambling in Ireland
Despite the nation's relatively small size, Ireland is already one of the largest gaming centers of the world, both online and off. Approximately 1,000 Irish citizens are employed in the online gaming industry while upwards of 6,000 work in the physical, land-based gaming industry. Already in Ireland, casinos run non-stop and horse racing is as much a part of the culture as baseball is in America. So what else could possibly occur to expand and improve the gaming landscape in Ireland? A lot, as it turns out.
Without proper licensing authorities and regulations in the nation, casinos are operating with licenses or oversight. Others gambling enterprises like gaming arcades and member clubs are running rampant, each by its own set of rules, while the country gets little to no tax income from the activities. Worse still, the players and bettors have no protections against being taken advantage of or from their own gambling addiction.
In 2013, efforts were taken to finally quell all that chaos in Ireland's online gambling landscape and establish clear regulations and authorities to make it easier to gamble legally and safely in Ireland. A new bill was proposed in the Irish government that would drastically reshape the gambling landscape in the nation by establishing clear regulations that allowed for safe, legal betting and gaming online and off while ensuring player safety and protection, including from serious plights like gambling addiction. This bill, the 2013 Gambling Control Bill, commonly known as the Scheme, would establish the Office for Gambling Control Ireland (OGCI), which would be responsible for, among other duties, issuing licenses to gambling operators. The Scheme established six types of gambling licenses in Ireland as follows:
• Betting license - Such as for a horse-racing track.
• Gaming license - Such as for a land-based casino.
• Remote gaming and betting license - Such as for online off-track betting or online casinos. Operators like comeon.com would in theory need to apply for a license.
• Temporary license - Such as for a one-time event.
• Hybrid license - Such as for a land-based casino with its own branded online casino or a horse-racing track with its own off-track betting site.
• Personal license - Such as for individuals working in a gaming or betting establishment and handling cash within the context of gambling activities.
Within these types, the Scheme created 43 different licenses a gambling operator could require. The Scheme further established that certain businesses not needing a licenses may still need to register with the OGCI to operate. It allowed betting establishments to offer gaming and created new licenses for lotteries. The Scheme also imposed restrictions on sponsorships, advertising and promotional activities in relation to gambling and required enhanced player protection and safety measures.
The only problem with the Scheme is that, in 2019, it still has yet to be enacted.
The 2015 Betting Amendment Act
While the Scheme has not yet been enacted, some measures have been taken to improve gambling in a country so already replete with it. The 2015 Betting Amendment Act established licensing and taxing requirements for land-based and online betting exchanges and bookmakers. While this is a helpful and necessary element of proper gambling regulation and enforcement, it does not even scratch the surface of how much more the Irish government requires to properly regulate all gambling activities in the nation. The full description of the current laws for gambling in Ireland can be found on ICLG Gambling Laws and Regulations website.
A rising concern about underage gambling in Ireland has created a new groundswell of support for passing and enacting the 2013 Gambling Control Bill. Currently, the safest places to gamble in Ireland are online gaming sites, which are already regulated and enforce player safety protections.