EGBA backs Independent Regulator as key Irish directive

The European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) has backed a proposal from Irish Minister David Stanton to establish an independent regulator by 2020 to govern a reformed Irish gambling sector.

Stanton seeks to establish an independent regulator as part of Ireland revamping its national gambling regulatory framework, introducing the mandate of the amended ‘Gaming & Lotteries Bill 2019’.

“EGBA welcomes the proposal to introduce a regulatory authority for gambling and thanks Minister Stanton and his departmental team for their ongoing commitment and efforts to regulate online gambling in Ireland,” read an EGBA statement.

Backing Irish progress on regulating online gambling services, the EGBA’s Dr Katie Hartmann – Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs – spoke to Irish policy stakeholders last week at a seminar organised by the Irish Department of Justice and Equality.

Dr Hartmann stated that it is in the interest of all stakeholders for Ireland “to have a well-regulated online gambling market, which provides legal certainty and protects Irish players by ensuring they can play within a regulated environment”.

Reflecting the interests of licensed online gambling incumbents, the EGBA continues to promote ‘sensible tax frameworks’ as a necessary function for regulated online gambling marketplaces.

“To enable this a Gross Gaming revenue tax, among others, is of crucial importance so that licensed gambling operators can offer a competitive product.” Dr Hartmann added. “For the law to be a success it should introduce a licensing system which is competitive and establishes a high degree of standards for operators and consumers alike.”

The reform of Irish gambling laws has faced numerous setbacks on a regulatory agenda that was first initiated in 2013 with the Dáil provisionally approving the ‘Gambling Control Bill’.

At the start of the year, David Stanton warned Fine Gael counterparts that ‘gambling reform had to be delivered in 2019, as gambling regulatory delays had hurt an unprotected Irish public.

Seeking to improve Irish problem-gambling support structures, last March Irish betting stakeholders agreed to form a €1 million funded ‘Gambling Awareness Trust’ – bolstering Ireland’s problem-gambling harm’s counselling, research and treatment disciplines.

Backing a responsibility agenda for Irish gambling, Dr. Hartmann said: “All reputable operators already have responsible gaming tools in place, but regulation should make those obligatory for all operators on the Irish market.

“Likewise, the Irish authorities should consider introducing a self-exclusion register for those who have or are at risk of, problem gambling behaviour. These punters should be able to exclude themselves from accessing gambling websites if they feel the need to.

“We look forward to the finalisation of the draft law and will work constructively with the proposed gambling authority to implement it.”

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