Home > Final report on the establishment of a modern regulatory environment and authority for all gambling activities licensed in Ireland.

McCann FitzGerald. (2019) Final report on the establishment of a modern regulatory environment and authority for all gambling activities licensed in Ireland. Dublin: Department of Justice and Equality.

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The objective of this Final Report was to develop a detailed set of proposals, which would help to inform and shape the preparation of the new framework for the licensing and regulation of gambling activities in Ireland. The main findings of our review can broadly be summarised as follows.

1. The current legislation which exists in Ireland to regulate gambling is outdated and in need of significant reform.

2. We agree with the views expressed by The Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality Mr. David Stanton, T.D. (the “Minister of State”) when he stated that “There is little or no scope for incremental reform of regulation of gambling – there are effectively no realistic pre-existing structures to build on“1. We do not believe that it would be possible to achieve regulatory reform through the amendment of existing gambling legislation. We would therefore agree with the recommendation of the Working Group that the most efficient and cost effective means of achieving the comprehensive reform that is needed would be to introduce new legislation which would regulate all forms of gambling in Ireland.

3. Due to the level of technological advancement, the speed of innovation and the evolving nature of product offerings, any laws that are introduced to regulate gambling must be sufficiently flexible to keep in touch with such advances.

4. The creation of a single independent regulatory authority that is responsible for all aspect of regulation and licensing is in our view consistent with best practice in the international jurisdictions that we have examined.

5. For any regulation to be effective, it needs to be enforced. We would agree with the comments of the Working Group when it stated that a “..significant level of staffing will be required from commencement of operations…“ and that the “…bulk of the staff….would likely be new persons..”.

6. We would estimate that for the regulatory authority to be effective it would require in the region of 95 - 105 staff.

7. We estimate that the costs of establishing a new regulatory authority would be in the region of €8-9 million.

8. We would estimate that it is likely to take at least two years before a new regulatory authority could become operational. This time frame is largely driven by the fact that legislation will need to be drafted and passed by the Oireachtas. In addition to enacting primary legislation, the regulatory authority once created will need to draft licensing conditions as well as the detailed policy and guidance notes that will be needed by operators. Also, it will take time to recruit staff for the new regulatory authority given that, as the Working Group has acknowledged, the bulk of staff are likely to be new hires.

9. We believe that it should be possible for the new regulatory authority to eventually be self-financing with the costs of the new regulatory authority being covered through licensing fees that are charged to operators. In the initial phases of establishment some Exchequer funding may be required to cover the initial set up costs of the regulatory authority.

10. The Irish Government will need to make a policy decision on the type of licences that the new regulatory authority can issue. We would, however, recommend that consideration be given to limiting the type of licences that are available to a number of broad licence categories. This approach is similar to that adopted in Malta.

11. For areas where gambling licences currently exist, Government should consider adopting a phased approach to the introduction of any new licensing regime. This may be helpful in ensuring that the new regulatory authority has sufficient capacity to initially focus on the issuance of licences in areas where licences do not currently exist. Existing licences could then be transitioned to the new regime over time.

12. Whilst we note that some state bodies have been constituted in the form of an individual office holder (Data Protection Commission, Insolvency Service of Ireland), we believe that from a governance perspective, consideration should be given to appointing a board of directors/commissioners to oversee the running of the new regulatory authority. The board would be primarily responsible for setting the strategy of the authority and ensuring that the strategic objectives are being achieved. A chief executive officer could then be appointed who, along with an executive team, would be responsible for the overall execution and performance of the strategy that has been set by the board.

13. Any new legislation that is introduced should ensure that the regulatory authority is given sufficient powers to protect consumers and, in particular, minors and those vulnerable to problem gambling behaviour. We would agree with many of the recommendations of the Working Group in this regard, in particular, the need for the creation of a social fund. We would recommend that any such fund should be funded through levies on licensed gambling operators. In order to ensure that every licensee contributes the appropriate amount to the fund we believe that such levies should be mandatory. We would recommend that the new regulatory authority should look to appoint an advisory board of persons with relevant expertise to determine how best to disburse the funds. However, the primary purpose of the fund should be to fund the provision of services by relevant professional providers to treat gambling addiction and to assist the authority and other bodies to raise education and awareness around problem gambling. A detailed analysis of the consumer protection and problem gambling measures that should be contained in any reform of gambling regulation in Ireland was outside the ambit of this Final Report.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Report
Drug Type
Behavioural addiction
Intervention Type
December 2019
49 p.
Department of Justice and Equality
Corporate Creators
McCann FitzGerald
Place of Publication

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