Ireland: Gambling Legislation Proposal Calls for Ban on Free Bets

  • The new gambling laws will be up for consideration by the Irish Cabinet on Tuesday
  • The proposal calls for the creation of a gambling regulator and restrictions on gambling ads
  • A new social impact fund would help with gambling addiction awareness and treatment
  • Irish sportsbooks recently agreed to advertising restrictions and credit card bans
hand signing legislative document with a pen, judge's mallet in the foreground
Newly proposed gambling legislation in Ireland seeks to ban free bets and create a national gambling regulator in 2022. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A new Irish regulator

A proposal for new gambling laws in Ireland is calling for the banning of free bets in the country. The potential legislative measures will feature during a Cabinet hearing on Tuesday.

up and running by early 2022

Another key aspect of the proposal would be the creation of a gambling regulator in the country, with the aim to have this up and running by early 2022. The regulator would have the power to suspend or revoke gambling licenses, in addition to being able to freeze accounts and block incoming payments to operators.

Changes would be on the way to gambling-related advertising, with the regulator dictating the frequency and times that these types of ads could appear on television and radio. Adverts featuring children or containing aspects that might appeal to them would no longer be allowed. Operators would face sanctions if they failed to adhere to such restrictions.

Protecting gamblers

The proposal also calls for the creation of a social impact fund to finance gambling awareness measures and addiction treatment. The funds would come from a levy placed on gambling operators. A new self-exclusion register would enable gamblers to stop themselves from playing with operators for a set number of months.  

Additionally, there is a push for an end to VIP player treatment by operators. If supported, the measure would put a stop to big spenders receiving special perks like cashback and tickets to sporting events.

The proposed legislation is said to be a lengthy one. Irish Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys and Minister of State in the Department of Justice James Browne have both reportedly been involved in its creation.

Other proposals and incoming changes

There have been calls for significant changes to Ireland’s gambling laws for some time. Various political parties have put forward legislation over the past year or so in relation to the matter.

The Irish Labour Party proposed banning all forms of gambling ads, as well as no longer allowing gambling operators to sponsor sports teams. Sinn Fein is in support of an independent gambling regulator and certain restrictions on gambling ads. 

Last week, the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) revealed that most online and retail sportsbooks operating in Ireland will be implementing a whistle-to-whistle ban on pre-watershed gambling ads during live sports broadcasts. Sportsbook operators had already agreed that would no longer accept credit cards as a form of payment. Betting companies will need to have these changes in place before the end of the year, with some already making these changes. The IBA has also been calling for the creation of a national gambling regulator.