Despite the fact that Ireland is a relatively small country, it is counted amongst the biggest gambling nations of the world.
There are 6000+ people employed by the betting shops and another 1000 or so working with the online operators. The casinos in the country operate round the clock and horse racing is the favorite pastime of the entire nation. Furthermore, you will find fixed-odds betting terminals on the shop floor of every bookmaker.
However, Ireland has had a complicated relationship with gambling (read more here on IrishCentral.com) and the current gaming laws are outdated, to say the least. The Irish gambling industry is passing through a transitional phase right now.
The Gambling Control Bill was floored in Dail Eireann back in 2013 and is yet to become a law. This bill is being perceived as a critical part of country’s gambling legislation, expected to regulate its gambling industry the same way as UK and other countries where the operators both online and off-line, flourish together in a heavily-regulated environment. Irish news portals like IrishTimes.com too have reported about a third-party regulator, employing a large to regulate Ireland’s gambling sector, but no specific developments have been seen on the ground so far.
An overview of the Irish gambling industry
Keeping in mind that Ireland has a large number of problem gamblers, the people of the country have been demanding greater regulation. As of now, all operators can acquire a gambling license, making room even for the most unscrupulous off-line/online casinos that allow even problem gamblers to play with them.
Prominent political leaders like Maureen O’Sullivan, David Hickson, and Sharon Byrne have all been favoring the Gambling Control Bill. They all believe that it will help in combating the menace of money laundering and organized crime.
Having been introduced in the 1950s, the present gambling laws of the country are very outdated and were created when there were no casinos around. In the opinion of these leaders, the government is responsible for ensuring better control over the industry. There is also a common perception that the passing of this bill will be instrumental in checking the underage gambling.
Online gambling laws
Online gambling is the most common amongst 18 to 35-year-olds in Ireland. Gambling websites are easy to access on desktops, laptops as well as mobile phones. There are no specific laws for the online gambling sector, making it the true Wild West in the Irish gambling world. For instance, for Sweden there are portals like Casino.se, which detail some of the best and most reliable online casinos in Sweden, there are none for Ireland. Then in the neighboring UK, both the offline as well as online casinos, plus the sports betting industry is required to provide thorough support to the gamblers. Customers can quickly check their total spending as well as detailed records at every online casino in UK. They can even place specific time and spending limits, which are then directly monitored by the gambling company. No such system is in place for Ireland.
One of the primary reasons why the Gambling Control Bill hasn’t been implemented in the country as yet is because of the overall lack of consensus on the regulation of the gambling sector. Department of Justice had asked for more concrete evidence on problem gambling and wanted to involve all the stakeholders in the decision-making process.
Regardless of how long it takes, big changes are definitely coming in the gambling industry of Ireland. With general public demanding more safeguards and the Gambling Control Bill getting support from all the quarters, 2019 could very well be the year when the eventual transformation will happen.