The UK and Ireland chief executive officer of Flutter Entertainment has warned that horse racing in Ireland may face a catastrophic decline in case the proposed draft of the Gambling Regulation Bill is brought into effect.
The Government’s bill is slowly making progress and, according to most analysts, it could be expected to be signed into law in 2024.
As previously reported by Casino Guardian, the piece of legislation proposes a major overhaul of the current gambling law in Ireland. Under the new legislative rules a new industry regulator – the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI) – is set to be established.
Recently, the CEO of Flutter UK and Ireland, Ian Brown, supported the proposed Gambling Regulation Bill and said most of it was excellent. He also explained he was not criticising the minister on the issues but, in his opinion, the Department of Justice could make amendments to some of the bill’s wording to avoid what he described as “unintended consequences”. Mr Brown believes that the Department should also allow the GRAI to decide on some issues, such as gambling advertising and gambling inducements.
Supporters of the new gambling legislation explained that it has been closely associated with the growing concern about problem gambling. Earlier in 2023, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) published research that depicted gambling addiction as an issue for one in 30 adult residents of Ireland, with the figure being 10 times higher than the one registered in 2019.
Ireland’s Gambling Sector Raises Concerns Regarding Some Aspects of the Proposed Gambling Bill
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice explained that the position of James Browne, the Minister of State and the Department have been reinforced by the findings of the aforementioned ESRI research. Mr Browne has been among the main supporters of the legislation.
The second draft of the proposed bill was published by the Oireachtas in July 2023.
According to a report issued by the law firm MGC, the major concerns raised by the local gambling sector ahead of the second draft, such as the proposed restrictions on gambling advertisements during the daytime, ban on advertising without explicit consent, as well as the suspended enticements to gambling services and activities, are still unchanged.
Now, Flutter Entertainment’s boss reiterated his company’s support of the overall bill and its objectives. He reminded that the gambling giant had backed the implementation of more up-to-date regulations in Ireland for no less than a decade and invested more than €60 million in safer gambling in the UK and Ireland over the last couple of years. He, however, pointed out three problematic areas of the draft, which included rules regarding gambling advertisements, inducements, and stake limits.
Mr Brown explained that the Irish horse racing sector is set to suffer significantly negative consequences as a result of falling revenue, a hole in public finances resulting from lower gambling tax take, blackouts on English Premier League (EPL) aired on TV, and thousands of Irish consumers hooked on the online gambling black market.
However, according to the Department of Justice, the bill will not have any impact on sports broadcasts from other jurisdictions.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.