Despite Ireland being a small country, it one of the world’s biggest gambling nations. As its stands, more than 6,000 people are employed in betting shops with a further 1,000 working within the online gambling field. Gambling products are accessible 24/7, however, Irish Gambling is in transition, with many claiming the laws to be outdated. The Gambling Control Bill, which includes an important piece of legislation, was first put to Dail Eireann way back in 2013, but it is yet to be passed in law. The plans aim to bring Irelands online and land-based gambling regulation to the same level as that of neighbouring UK, and many claim it’s needed in order for Ireland to flourish.
Gambling in Ireland
Statistics show Ireland has an appalling number of problem gamblers, but not only that, they rank among the highest in the world when it comes to the average level of individual losses, two of the main reasons for greater regulation calls. As it stands, gambling operators in Ireland can bypass the process of obtaining a gambling licence and because of this, rogue casinos can operate with impunity, which leads to more problem gamblers losing more money! There is no support for players who are considered to be problem gamblers and there is no policy for casinos to check against money-laundering, shocking really, what with other nations having implemented these into legislation many years ago now.
Irish politicians; Sharon Byrne, David Hickson and Maureen O’Sullivan, have spoken in favour of the proposed bill, with Maureen O’Sullivan claiming that the bill is needed to combat organised crime and money laundering; “1% of the industry is regulated for money laundering, which means that 99% are not.” Byrne and Hickson branded the current gambling law as outdated, having been created back in the 1950’s, long before any land-based casino arrived into the country. The trio argue that the current bill does nothing to support those with gambling addiction and there are concerns over underage gambling too – the Gambling Control Bill, all 90-pages of it, will help to enforce a stricter gambling policy throughout the country. Online betting between 18 and 25 years olds is the most popular form of gambling across Ireland, and it’s thanks to the advances in technology that make it even easier and quicker to gamble than ever before. In the UK, gambling operators are required by law to offer direct support to customers, plus all licensed and regulated websites offer players the ability to track spending and impose gambling restrictions on their account, if they so wish.
It’s claimed that the reason for the lack of movement on the regulation front is due to the lack of consensus on how it should be done. Four years ago, further academic evidence into problem gambling in Ireland was requested by the Department of Justice, they also sought to talk to major shareholders within the iGaming sector before acting on the bill. When completed, the Irish gambling industry would be brought inline with the UK gambling industry, which is said to be worth approximately £15 billion.