June 19, 2024

Ireland’s “extremely powerful” gambling regulator will focus primarily on public health and wellbeing, according to Minister of State for Justice James Browne.

The country is expected to introduce comprehensive legislation in September 2021 in a bid to reform regulation of the industry, with Browne insisting that a regulator will be in place by the end of the year.

The discussion around a regulator comes eight years after a Bill to regulate gambling was introduced but never passed, and follows concerns from President Michael D Higgins last week about the level of sports betting advertising in the media.

According to Browne, the regulator will be backed up by comprehensive legislation. “It’s really important to understand that it is not simply a regulator but they will have a public health remit as their primary focus in every decision and recommendation they will make,” he said.

Labour Senator Mark Wall, however, believes such legislation should arrive much sooner. He also raised his concerns about the lack of watershed on the broadcasting of gambling advertising.

“What really disturbs me most is that there is no watershed on gambling advertising in this country,” he said. “And our children and young adults are being exposed to a highly addictive behaviour. We have so many stories of children as young as six, especially when they were being homeschooled, asking their parents what these ads were all about.”

While Browne explained that effectively banning such advertising would be challenging, he did point to the UK Government review of the 2005 Gambling Act as a pathway into a similar route for the Irish Government to go down.