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Gambling regulation has been on the cards since October 2021, and a new Irish Examiner report highlights the fact that the government are now putting applications out to tender. A new gambling regulator will be in place by 2023, with the government providing up to 12 million Euros with the ultimate aim being for the industry to fund its own regulation. With change afoot, it will be interesting to see how the industry adapts – and how gambling trends and choices change across the country.
Everyday slots and casinos
One of the areas targeted by regulation is casinos. There has been an upshot in the problem of ‘problem gamblers’ over the past few years, and this has led to the idea of banning free bets being floated, according to the Irish Times. This cuts out significant predatory marketing, and prevents the soft lure of being pulled in with free bets. Indeed, playing casino games for money is typically associated with a more up-front and easily accountable form of gaming, where the financial risk is expressed clearly at the outset. Regulation in this area may therefore benefit casinos and gamblers more than it affects them, and take good steps in protecting people who may be disadvantaged by free games.
Sports betting and wagers
Sports gambling has of course enjoyed a long history in Ireland and is, for the most part, unproblematic – a fun wager is part of match day for many. However, there are numerous stories of even well-heeled individuals experiencing extreme difficulty due to the pernicious nature of some gambling; Michael Chopra, the former Premier League footballer, is one notable example. As The Irish Mirror highlights, over £2 million of his wealth was sunk into gambling debt. Escalatory free bets aside, changes have been mooted within Irish sport to reduce the visibility of gambling, for instance through removing sponsors from football team shirts and stadiums. Time will tell if it can be as effective.
Tackling the horses
Of all the gambling arenas, horse racing is perhaps the most storied in Irish history. The nation is famous for its breeding of horses, and there’s a huge culture and community built up around that. According to the Irish Times, there have been jitters within the horse betting community over the potential changes to regulation, and this is having a knock-on effect on courses around the country. When paired with incoming changes to regulation for Northern Irish racecourses, which obviously hold a distinct legal status but will have a direct impact on operations south of their border, there may be real change afoot. It’s unlikely that it will be more difficult to bet on horse racing – it’s part and parcel of the country’s history – but it may become harder to fritter away money online.
Watch the industry, then, to see if real change will happen. The new regulators and laws indicate that the Irish government may have some teeth in the gambling industry – but only time will tell.