Irish Pols Under Pressure to Dilute New Gaming Laws

Irish lawmakers are under increasing lobbying pressure by the gambling industry to pull back some of the more onerous proposals in its revision of gambling law. Among them is a ban on daylight gambling advertising.

Irish Pols Under Pressure to Dilute New Gaming Laws

Politicians in the Republic of Ireland are under acute lobbying pressure by the gaming industry to dilute new proposed laws, the first change to gambling laws in almost a century, the Irish Independent reported May 27.

Supporters of the new law, led by  Junior Justice Minister James Browne say change is needed to address “a tsunami of social problems” created by gambling.

One of the most criticized measures in the proposed law is a ban on advertising during daylight hours. Other requirements are the creation of a fund to help fight problem gambling and the creation of Ireland’s first gambling regulator, who had been appointed months ago in anticipation of the law’s adoption.

The Irish legislature, the Oireachtas, keeps a registry of lobbying efforts. It has shown increased lobbying efforts this year as the new law has moved through various committees. Most of the pressure has been applied to Browne.

This has caused delays in approving the law that caused Professor Colin O’Gara, head of addiction services at St. John of God Hospital, to exclaim against “non-stop, incessant pressure” and to declare “The whole idea of this legislation is we get it through in a timely fashion. That time has elapsed. It’s been too long.”

On the other side are bookmakers, members of the horse racing industry, and even charities that use lotteries and raffles to fundraise. The charity Arthritis Ireland told lawmakers that it could lose €25,000 annually, which would harm its ability to help people afflicted with arthritis.

Other charities have appealed to politicians to exempt them from the laws.

Minister Browne, speaking in the Seanad Éireann (senate) said the government would consider amendments to carve out charities from the law.

People who make their living from gambling, including Horse Racing Ireland, Paddy Power, a subsidiary of Flutter and the Irish Bookmakers Association, say they intend to acquaint lawmakers with “unintended consequences of the bill” and “the implications of the proposed bill on the horseracing industry.”

Minister Browne declared that the Irish government has gone to great lengths to protect the racing industry, but that gambling creates a “tsunami of social problems” and “extraordinary damage” to society.