Despite being one of the world’s biggest gambling nations, Irish gaming laws have barely been updated since the 1950s and are not fit for purpose in regulating the rapidly growing industry of online gambling.

The multi-billion-euro gambling industry is currently governed principally by the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 and the Betting Act of 1931, which the government admits are woefully out-of-date, but progress on new legislation has been slow. The updated regulations are now five years behind schedule, but Minister of State with responsibility for the gambling industry, David Stanton, says the delay could give Ireland the opportunity to better regulate on online betting industry, as the laws will reflect the new world of online gambling, much of which is based offshore, which look very different just five years ago.

The long overdue reforms will include what has been described as a “big beast” regulator, which will employ around 100 people and have the teeth to enforce compliance against operators based both within Ireland and around the world. The regulator will have powers to deal with gambling addiction, advertising, underage gambling, virtual betting, and money laundering.

The comprehensive new Gambling Control legislation is expected to be published later this year, with a view to it progressing through the Oireachtas to become enacted in 2020.

Stanton told the Irish Times that there were real concerns about the growth of online gambling that needed to be addressed and noted the rise of so-called “loot boxes” within mobile games as a particular concern.

Irish authorities started regulating online gambling services in 2015 with the Gambling (Amendment) Act, forcing operators to obtain a license to target the country’s citizens, but many offshore firms skirt the rules. However, as the new and more forceful legislation is prepared, firms that have already obtained a license to operate in the country, such as Aspire, EveryMatrix, LeoVegas, and Mansioncasino.com, will find themselves best placed to take advantage of the new rules and grow their market share.

Upon news that their license had been granted earlier this month, Mansion CEO Karel Manasco said: “It’s exciting to have Mansion licenced within Ireland. We recognise the size of the competition, but with over 15 years’ experience in the industry and strong brand recognition, I believe we have the knowledge, paired with an impressive product to succeed.”

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