On 2 December 2022, the Irish Government published The Gambling Regulation Bill (the Bill). In the first update we covered the Grambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI) and its powers under the Bill. In the second update we covered the proposed licensing regime. You can catch up on the first news update here and the second here.
In this final instalment, we will be discussing the new enforcement measures, including consumer and player protection.
Sanctions and Enforcement
The Bill provides significant powers to the GRAI to deal with instances of non-compliance. Some of these measures include the power to:
- Enter licence holders premises to search and inspect any material, equipment or gambling products in use there. The GRAI’s officers may also be accompanied by the police if circumstances are deemed appropriate
- Secure any material/equipment which the GRAI deems necessary for inspection and hold for an undefined period of time while the GRAI conduct their investigation. This material/equipment may include computers which hold any information relating to gambling activity
- Obtain court orders to cease a licence holders operations on either a temporary or permanent basis including the closing down of any premises held by that licence holder
- Suspend or revoke a licence for non-compliance
- Apply to the Court to have a licensee’s bank accounts frozen and stop the licensee from receiving any payments
- Apply to the Court to have internet service providers block the activity of a remote gambling licence holder
The Bill also provides for the Court approved administrative financial sanctions which may be up to:
- EUR 20,000,000 for an individual
- In the case of a provider that is not an individual, whichever is the greater of EUR 20,000,000 or 10% of relevant turnover of the provider
There is a provision for imprisonment for up to 8 years for senior management members of licence holders who are found guilty of offences in contravention of the Bill. The Bill further provides that the GRAI will be the competent authority for Irish anti-money laundering legislation as it pertains to gambling activities in the State.
Consumer and Play Protection Measures
Player protection measures introduced in the Bill include (but are not limited to):
- Restrictions on the type of games and lotteries that may be offered by licensees’
- Staking and pay-out limits on gaming and lottery products
- Prohibition on the acceptance of payments for gambling activity by credit card and extension of credit facilities by players to fund gambling activities
- A ban on ATM’s being located in a premises held by an in-person gambling licence holder
- Prohibitions on advertising gambling products on social media platforms (to include advertising on video sharing platforms, social media websites as well as by telephone, text or e-mail) unless the person receiving the advertising has explicitly opted into to receiving gambling related content
- Watershed to apply to the advertising of gambling products on television, radio or on demand social medial platforms between the hours of 5:30 am and 9 p.m.
- Prohibitions on advertising that may mislead, deceive or confuse the public about the potential social or financial impact of gambling products
- Prohibitions on advertising that may be attractive to children, encourage children to gamble, exploit the credulity, loyalty or vulnerability of children
- Prohibitions on advertising that may cause, condone or encourage excessive or compulsive gambling
- Requirements that all advertising specifically include a statement that gambling by children is prohibited and a warning on the risks of excessive or compulsive gambling
- Prohibitions on the manufacture, import or sale or supply free of charge of branded clothing or merchandise intended to be worn or used by a child
- Prohibitions on the sponsorship by a licence holder of (i) any event or part of an event where the majority of those attending or competing are children, (ii) any event aimed at children, (iii) an organisation, club or team in which children are members (iv) a premises that is used by an organisation, club or team in which children are members or (v) a public activity that appeals to children
- Requirements that licensees provide approved training to staff to enable them to identify problem-gambling characteristics and to have detailed knowledge of the supports that are available to the public
Overall, the Bill marks a significant point of reform for Ireland’s outdated gambling laws. The Bill reached the third stage on 6 December 2022. It is anticipated that it will be enacted into law in 2023, with the new regulatory regime coming into effect shortly thereafter. For the moment, the existing regime is still in force.
We will be closely monitoring the progress of the Bill and continue to provide material updates through Incesight.