The government of Ireland plans to have a new national gambling regulator in place by 2023 to license and regulate online and land-based operators.

Having approved plans for a new regulator in 2019, the government has now outlined a general scheme for gambling regulation under the proposed authority, which will be set up next year and operational by 2023.

The new authority will have powers to license retail and online gambling operators, and to combat unlicensed operators by blocking payment transactions and internet access to offshore gaming sites.

The authority will also have the power to impose fines of up to €20m on individuals engaged in illegal gambling, with companies liable to the same penalty or a fine based on 10 per cent of relevant turnover in a financial year.

“The publication of the General Scheme is an important milestone towards the effective regulation of gambling in Ireland under the new, independent statutory body – the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland. The Scheme sets out the framework and legislative basis for how we will do this,” said James Browne, Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration.

“We all accept that the current legislative framework is fragmented, outdated, lacks a coherent licensing and regulatory approach, and is in need of significant reform. Now is the time to finally address this issue comprehensively, once and for all.”

“I believe that the legislative underpinning of this new Authority will be essential to its success and I am committed to taking this forward,” he added. “There will be opportunities for further stakeholder engagement and input as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process.”

The Scheme takes into account the recommendations of expert reports, including the Inter-Departmental Working Group Report published in March 2019, and analysis of the regulatory approaches in other jurisdictions.

Under the proposed regulations, online and offline operators will be required to secure B2B, B2C, or charitable gaming licenses from the authority in order to serve players in Ireland. They will also be prohibited from offering inducements to gamble such as free bets or VIP treatment, as well gambling on credit.

The General Scheme was unveiled Thursday (October 21) and will now be submitted for drafting to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, before referral to the Justice Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny.

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