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Licensing Regime Under the Gambling Regulation Bill

Article authored by Danielle Curtis

On 2 December 2022, the Irish Government published The Gambling Regulation Bill (the Bill). This news update is the second in a series of three updates focusing on the Bill. In the first update we covered the Grambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI) and its powers. You can catch up on that news updates here.

Licensing Regime
The Bill provides for 3 broad types of licences:

1. Business to Consumer Licences (B2C Licence)
A B2C Licence can be obtained to cover the supply of the following gambling products through the following means:

  • Betting Licence (in person betting, remote betting, in person and remote betting, or remote betting intermediary)
  • Gaming Licence (in person gaming, remote gaming and in person and remote gaming)
  • Lottery Licence (in person lottery, remote lottery or in person and remote lottery)

Even though Part I of the Bill introduces definitions for the terms ‘bet’, ‘game’ and ‘lottery’ it does not clearly define when something is a bet versus a game versus a lottery. Currently, there is still potential for products to fall within multiple definitions and given the different regulatory environments that can apply to the different products under the Bill, this is certainly an area which will require further attention as the Bill passes through government.

A B2C licence will, on issue, be subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the GRAI as well as those set out in the Bill. Schedule 3 of the Bill prescribes the maximum stake and payout that is permitted for gaming and lottery products. There are currently no staking or payout limits to betting but this is something that could be imposed by the GRAI under the powers delegated to them under the Bill.

Section 104 states that generally a B2C licence will remain in force for a period of one year.

2. Business to Business Licence (B2B Licence)
Under section 69 of the Bill, a person established in Ireland shall not sell or supply a gambling product or gambling related service unless they have obtained a B2B Licence.

Furthermore, under section 70 of the Bill, a licensee shall only purchase a gambling product or gambling related service from a B2B Licence holder. This shall result in overseas suppliers to Irish licence holders having to obtain a B2B licence.

It is an offence under section 70 for any person in Ireland to purchase a gambling product or gambling related services where they are not a licensee. A “gambling product” has been defined under Part I of the Bill to mean “any machine (including a gaming machine), equipment or software used, constructed or adapted for or in connection with gambling.”

“gambling related service” is defined under Part I to mean “any service provided, directly or indirectly, in the course of business which relates to a gambling activity or a gambling product, or is ancillary to a gambling activity or a gambling product and includes providing, for the operation of a gambling activity

  1. odds to licensees,
  2. online hosting services,
  3. support and maintenance which is indispensable to its operation,
  4. risk management services,
  5. fraud management services,
  6. services to implement measures to protect and safeguard players,
  7. facilities for the holding and managing of customer funds,
  8. the installation, maintenance or upgrading of software, and
  9. any other service the Authority prescribes”

A B2B licence will remain in force for such a period as is prescribed by the GRAI. 

3. Charitable / Philanthropic Licence
This licence is available to organisations who are providing relevant gambling activity for charitable and philanthropic purposes. Section 87(4) provides details of the type of activities, which are covered, with certain small charitable and philanthropic lotteries remaining exempt where the holder of the lottery derives no personal profit from the lottery and certain conditions are met.

Application Process
The application process for a licence under the Bill is much more detailed than the current process. There is a significant increase in the level of information that applicants will have to provide in order to obtain a licence, with additional information being required when in person gambling is to be provided. Chapter 4 of the Bill sets out the application process and section 94 sets out the information and documentation to accompany an application for a gambling licence.

The Bill does not provide for a level of fees that will be paid by licensees but rather provides that the level of fees will, with consent of the Minister, be set having regard to the estimated operating costs that are likely to be incurred by the GRAI in a relevant financial period (section 39(1)). The level of fee that will be paid by each licensee will be determined by the GRAI having regard to factors such as:

  • The number and type of relevant gambling activities or relevant gambling products or relevant gambling related services authorised by the licence
  • The duration of the gambling licence
  • Where a licensee if already providing relevant gambling activities or relevant gambling products under current laws, the turnover from the provision of such activities, products or services
  • Where a licensee has not previously held a gambling licence in Ireland, the estimated turnover from the provision of relevant gambling activities or relevant gambling products
  • The administrative costs, actual or estimated, incurred by a licensee in providing relevant gambling activities or relevant gambling products or relevant gambling related services

The GRAI will establish and maintain a register of gambling licensees. 

The Bill does not prescribe what transitional arrangements will apply for licences that are currently in issue. Considering online betting licences granted under the existing regulatory regime will need to be renewed by 30 June 2023, it is anticipated that operators will be provided with clarity on the new regime before then.

In next week’s news article, we will discuss the new measures to be implemented to protect individuals from gambling under the Bill.

For more information on Ireland and other gaming jurisdictions, check out Advennt, your digital assistant that helps you keep up to date with ever-changing regulation updates.