The recently established Irish gambling regulator has been assigned the responsibility of setting up a robust regulatory framework to maintain a safe gambling environment for local players amidst the Irish iGaming market’s rapid expansion.
Many industry experts estimate that as part of the government’s push toward safer gambling, the regulator will prohibit free bets and ban operators still offering the feature. Moreover, there are also talks of it enforcing stricter rules on gambling advertisements.
However, what exactly are the implications of those rumors becoming a reality?
The free wager ban has many industry professionals concerned
The main concern with the prohibition of free bets is that for many operators, they are an essential method of not only attracting new players but also retaining existing ones. This will have quite a significant negative financial impact on regulated operators, however, an even larger problem could arise if lackluster bonuses drive some players to the unregulated black market.
Many experts, such as operator comparison website irishluck.ie’s Sanna Heinonen, hope that the new regulations don’t harm operators, though Heinonen does note that:
“…more regulation is always welcome where it comes from a place of protecting players, rather than attacking the industry.”
Stricter advertising rules are a cause of concern as well
Similarly to banning free bets, restricting advertisements for regulated operators will impact them negatively and will give the unregulated market an opportunity to allure customers away from safe betting and gambling sites. Additionally, this will also make starting a regulated business harder, potentially driving operators to the unregulated side of the industry.
Ireland’s gambling regulatory authority plans to mainly restrict advertising on television and on the internet, which are the main promotional verticals for many operators in the country.
One of the most noteworthy suggested steps toward tightening regulations for ads is a time restriction in the form of banning all industry advertisements before 9 pm. Usually, watersheds like this affect only the TV vertical, however, the Irish regulator aims to enact the law on all forms of promotional campaigns.
2023 will be a noteworthy year for the Irish gambling industry
The upcoming changes to the sector will undoubtedly reshape it in the future, but when exactly will the transformation start?
The short answer is: it already has. The first step was taken back in October of 2021 when the Irish government published a bill that solidified its intent to form a dedicated gambling regulator. That was followed by the next major milestone in Ireland’s mission in the autumn of 2022, when Anne Marie Caulfield was selected to lead the soon-to-be-formed gambling regulator.
Further tightening regulations are inevitable
While many changes have already been made, Irish experts advocate against them and many upcoming ones, as the risk of harming the industry is still quite prominent.
Furthermore, the regulator plans on implementing many other laws as part of its mission to ensure safe gambling, although only time will be able to tell how they will affect the industry.