Ireland: Consumers must “opt in” to receive gambling ads online

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
Consumers in Ireland will have to “opt in” to receive gambling ads on streaming and video services or social media according to country’s recently introduced Gambling Regulation Bill.
Ireland

While an outright ban on social media advertising was floated in Ireland in November, the final draft of the bill has watered down those provisions to instead give consumers increased discretion about the advertising content that they encounter.

On the other hand, though, this “opt-in” approach will also apply to various other areas online, such as streaming and video sites.

“It is intended that a person may only receive gambling advertising where they opt in to receiving it on an on-demand or media sharing platform or, in the case of social media, only where a person subscribes to such services and platforms and gives their consent to receiving such advertising,” Ireland’s minister for law reform, James Browne, who has been leading on the bill, said.

Meanwhile, television and radio advertising will be subject to a watershed which will prohibit the broadcasting of gambling ads between 5:30am and 9pm.

“The bill also provides for a wide-ranging power to allow the Authority to prescribe the times, places and events where gambling advertising can be broadcast, displayed or published, and to specify the frequency, duration and amount of advertisements,” said Browne.

Promotions

When the initial text of the bill was publicly released, iGB noted that the language around bans on free bets and other inducements was sufficiently broad to potentially restrict any use of promotions as an incentive to gamble in Ireland.

Browne clarified matters, seemingly drawing a distinction between promotions tailored to individual customers and ones aimed without discrimination at the public.

While inducements directed towards “a person” will be outright banned, with senior executives of companies involved potentially subject to criminal charges, the regulation that will apply to the latter will be at the discretion of the minister in consultation with the regulator.  

According to Browne, the bill provides for a “new offence where a licensee offers any form of inducement to a person to encourage them to gamble or to continue to gamble. This includes the offer of hospitality or VIP treatment, free bets or favourable treatment/better odds to entice a person to gamble.”

This contrasts with less targeted promotional activity.

“Following consultation with the Authority, regulations may be made to limit or prohibit the offer of promotions by licensees that directly or indirectly encourage the public at large to gamble,” he said.

Ireland Gambling Bill

The bill as it is currently constructed may be amended as it is the committee stage of the Dáil, Ireland’s lower house, and therefore may be subject to change.

After the bill is approved by the chamber, the bill will be debated by the Senate pending final approval by the president.