ALMOST 10 years after the Government first announced its intention to reform Ireland’s gambling laws, the new Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 was published yesterday.

The Bill provides for the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, which will license and regulate betting and gaming services. The authority will also maintain a national gambling exclusion register and provide for the establishment of a social impact fund aimed at reducing excessive gambling.

Expected to become law next year, the Bill will repeal the Totalisator Act 1929, the Betting Act 1931 and the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. In September senior civil servant Anne Marie Caulfield was named as the first chief executive of the new regulatory body.

Pat Brennan, head of Horse Racing Ireland’s betting division, is awaiting more details on how the new legislation might affect racecourse betting rings. Currently Ireland’s 90 racecourse bookmakers are licensed and regulated by HRI, while off-course and online operators are licensed by Revenue.

“We have been working with the Department of Justice on things like anti-money laundering measures, so I expect the new regulator’s office will be in touch with us once they are up and running,” Brennan said.

The Irish Bookmakers Association, which represents the off-course sector, was quick off the blocks to welcome the publication of the Bill. A statement issued by the IBA’s chairperson Sharon Byrne said: “Today is a landmark day in the reform of gambling legislation. The Bill, when enacted, will enable the industry to continue to develop the highest standards for safer gambling in Ireland.

“The final Act must ensure that consumers are protected through practical and effective measures which are applied across the entire gambling spectrum. For industry, it must provide clarity and certainty for bookmakers while also allowing sufficient flexibility to ensure the regulatory regime can keep pace with technological developments.

“The IBA and its members are eager to provide any assistance required in the development of this legislation and our members have significant expertise and experience of best-in-class regulatory regimes internationally.”