IMGL Magazine April 2022

Ireland market reform

Regulatory and licensing role The new Authority will have broad powers as regards the regulation of all gambling services in Ireland (including gaming, betting and lotteries) by both the commercial and non-commercial providers of such services, including the advertisement of such services – the only proposed exception is the National Lottery (Ireland’s state lottery), which is excluded from the Authority’s regulatory remit. The Authority will set license terms and conditions (including fees); issue Codes of Practice and Conduct; and make orders and regulations on technical and other compliance standards. It will also investigate and address complaints from users in relation to the conduct of providers, alleged breaches by providers or the provision of services by the provider. Supervisory powers and enforcement tools As well as administering the new licensing regime, the Authority will have broad powers to supervise compliance and to bring enforcement actions against non-compliant operators. This will include, for example, the ability to conduct inspections and investigations, monitor compliance, issue warning notices, impose administrative fines (subject to court confirmation) and sanctions (including the revocation of a license). It will also be able to pursue prosecutions against operators, and company officers and senior management in the scenario where an offence is committed with their consent or connivance, or attributable to any neglect or wilful neglect on their part. The level of fines proposed in the Scheme is significant and the fines are similar to those under GDPR and financial services regulation, i.e. the Scheme provides for fines of up to €20 million or 10 percent of

turnover against operators if they break new rules to be introduced by the regulator. The Authority will also be responsible for regulating anti-money laundering compliance in collaboration with other agencies, including the Anti-Money Laundering Steering Committee, the Financial Intelligence Unit of An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners. Next steps and timing With the recruitment of a CEO of the Authority underway, and the drafting of the legislation proceeding at pace, change is finally imminent. Ireland has an opportunity to design and implement a modern, flexible and effective regulatory regime for gambling operators. It can also adopt learnings from the experiences of other jurisdictions, and in particular our nearest neighbour, the UK, where a review of its 17-year-old legislation is underway. While there has been some slippage in the ambitious timelines previously set out in the 2021 ‘Justice Action Plan’, the reform of Irish gambling laws is still on track for 2023. The 2022 version of this plan provided Q4 2022 as the target date for enactment of the legislation, and that is still a possibility. As noted above, the Bill has been flagged as ‘priority legislation’ and we understand that drafting is underway in parallel with the pre- legislative scrutiny process. What we expect to see next is the output of this process – in the form of a pre-legislative scrutiny report – followed by publication of the Bill itself. With the establishment of the authority in parallel, there will be strong political pressure to ensure that the Bill passes through the various stages of the legislative process as swiftly as possible. All in all, there is ample basis for cautious optimism that 2023 will be the start of a new era in the regulation of gambling in Ireland.

Katie O’Connor is a Betting, Gaming and Licensing partner at A&L Goodbody. She can be contacted at +353 1 649 2591

Joe Kelly is a Betting, Gaming and Licensing partner at A&L Goodbody. He can be contacted at jkelly@ +353 1 649 2429

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22 • IMGL Magazine • April 2022

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