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Lottoland calls for Irish gambling reform rethink amid public concerns

| By Richard Mulligan
Lottoland has called on the Irish government to engage with the gambling industry before progressing its reforms as a new survey showed public concern about restrictive regulation.
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Research commissioned by Lottoland shows that 75% back plans to introduce greater regulation through the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022.

However, Lottoland says the restrictive proposals such as win and wager limits go too far for some. The survey found that two thirds of respondents believe people should be free to gamble responsibly. Of those that currently bet, 19% would seek alternative methods of gambling in the event that it is restricted in Ireland. Meanwhile, less than a third were aware of the new legislation by government to regulate gambling.

The government is set to complete the legislative process to regulate the gambling sector in the coming months. The bill would introduce an advertising ban throughout much of the day and end inducements such as free bets. Some games would be restricted by maximum win limits of €3,000 or maximum bet limits of €10. A new regulatory body would also be created, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI).

Lottoland calls for greater engagement

Mike Kirwan, vice-president of Lottoland, said the group backs the overarching objectives of the bill, such as the establishment of the GRAI. However, Lottoland fears that the new laws suffer from an absence of clear and robust definitions. If passed, these would have “a range of unintended consequences stemming from a range of legal issues”.

Kirwan has urged minister James Browne and the regulator-designate to re-engage with industry experts and listen to their concerns.

“Lottoland remain firmly committed to the development and adoption of a comprehensive, evidence-based legislative framework for the gambling, betting and lotteries sector in Ireland,” Kirwan said.

“But we also believe that what is set in legislation now will be vital to ensuring an effective, agile, and sustainable framework in the longer term – while still providing for an enjoyable yet safer gambling experience for all customers.

“The results of this poll demonstrate that the Irish public are in favour of a sensible approach to the regulation of our sector, which sees increased regulation and harm reduction, without coming at the cost of an individual’s ability to bet responsibly.”

The research was undertaken by Ireland Thinks on behalf of Lottoland, on a representative sample of 1,387 individuals in Ireland.

Gambling bill would ban ads before 9pm

The Gambling Regulation Bill was first approved in November 2022, with the most recent version published in July. Controversial proposals, such as the ad ban, remain in the text despite strong opposition from some. The bill proposes a watershed ban on gambling advertising for radio and television between 5.30am and 9pm. This effectively wipes viewable hours for advertising from broadcaster’s rosters.

Another reform included in the bill is the ban on free bets. This formed part of the effort to de-influence children and vulnerable groups from gambling.

Last month, it was revealed that one in 30 adults in Ireland experience some form of problem gambling. This was according to a report published by the country’s Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

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