Ireland’s legislators are trying to bring new laws to the gambling industry, but things aren’t going entirely as planned. Shortly after putting in place a new regulator to guide the country into its next era of gambling, Ireland’s Department of Justice (DOJ) is calling foul on certain proposed rules.
The Irish Examiner reported recently that the DOJ squashed an attempt by legislators to offer greater protection to gamblers. It also shot down a measure that would have placed too much burden on operators’ shoulders to respond to certain claims for losses.
The government agency didn’t turn down all of the proposals, however. There are several that will be included in the final product when the gambling reform is ready.
Win Some, Lose Some
The plan was for operators to be responsible for the financial well-being of consumers and to identify financial vulnerabilities they may have. However, the DOJ determined that this measure was subjective and that operators could manipulate the system to their own advantage.
It was a case of an operator being responsible for policing its own efforts, something that gives too much leeway. There’s no fail-safe to prevent an operator from either not following through or altering the data to suit its needs.
In addition, according to the DOJ, gaming operators have no training to ascertain financial viability. It explained that they’re not credit rating agencies and have no specialized education that would allow them to accurately draw worthwhile conclusions.
That stance also played a role in the DOJ’s rejection of another measure the gambling reform tried to introduce. Operators would have to answer to “dependents and creditors of gamblers” if they knew a user was spending more than they could afford.
The DOJ said this was impractical and would be virtually impossible to enforce. In addition, no law establishes a “ranking” of bad debt. This means no one could legally argue that a gambling debt, for example, outweighs an outstanding mortgage in terms of collections.
The decisions found disappointment among some of those looking to tighten gambling industry regulations. They called it a “big miss” and hope that Ireland’s Parliament can figure out how to appease the DOJ.
Some Language Survived the Round
Things like affordability checks are part of responsible gambling discussions in other countries but are finding resistance among gamblers and throughout the industry.
This is true in Ireland, where gaming advertising will have its limits. For example, the DOJ isn’t stopping a measure that will prevent TV and radio ads from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
It also isn’t standing in the way of a block on certain promotions and bonuses. Whereas operators previously relied heavily on free bets to attract customers, these will no longer be permitted in Ireland.
Gaming operators can also expect to provide financial support to responsible gambling programs. As part of the new laws, Ireland will establish a “social impact fund” that it will use to address problem gambling. Operators will have to pay into that fund, but the amount is still under discussion.
Gamblers and bettors in Ireland can expect the changes to arrive sometime this year. However, if the DOJ finds any more problems, the rollout of the regulations will face new delays.
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