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‘Highly intrusive’ gambling due diligence checks not welcome in Ireland

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Posted: December 27, 2023, 10:09 am.

Last updated: December 27, 2023 at 10:09.

In a move that diverges from the UK’s approach, the Irish government has ruled out fair value checks for customers who lose more than £100 (about US$127) a month gambling. The decision comes amid growing concerns about the potential impact of such checks on personal privacy and the economic well-being of vulnerable individuals.

Horses and jockeys participating in horse racing
Horses and jockeys participating in horse racing. Ireland is likely to reject proposals for gambling affordability checks as it prepares new gambling laws. (image: herald sun)

The UK Government’s proposed affordability check would require bookmakers to assess a customer’s financial ability to gamble responsibly. This includes scrutinizing their income, spending, and gambling habits.

Supporters of the measure say it will effectively curb problem gambling, while critics have raised concerns about its intrusiveness. They also say it could worsen economic hardship for low-income people.

Britain has introduced measures to reduce gambling addiction, which authorities believe has increased since the coronavirus pandemic. This is despite indications that the country’s problem gambling rate has remained stable at 0.02% over the past few years.

Brown Clear on Affordability Check

James Brown, Ireland’s Minister for Gambling Regulation, spoke in an interview with the media. Sunechoed these concerns, saying affordability checks were “too intrusive” and could “stigmatize people with gambling problems”. He emphasized the need for a balanced approach to dealing with gambling addiction without infringing on individuals’ privacy or exacerbating their financial burden.

My understanding anecdotally is: [it is] It has had a huge impact on British horse racing in terms of numbers of participants. ” James Brown, Ireland’s Minister for Gambling Regulation, said: “We don’t do things like that here, because I think (and others agree) that affordable checks are a very personal violation for people who gamble. doing).”

Instead of affordable checks, the Irish government is pursuing a different strategy to tackle gambling addiction. The bill currently under consideration aims to ban gambling advertising on television and online between 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. It also plans to abolish promotional offers such as free bets and strengthen support services for people suffering from gambling problems.

The Irish horse racing industry has expressed concerns about the potential impact of the Government’s gambling laws. Industry insiders are concerned that the ban on advertising, particularly on horse racing channels, could erode revenue streams and ultimately reduce coverage of Irish horse racing events.

nothing to worry about

Deputy Prime Minister Michael Martin has sought to allay such concerns, insisting the ban will “result in no job losses” in the industry. However, two prominent horse racing channels, Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing, disagree.

Both companies have warned that the bill could significantly reduce their operations in Ireland due to reduced advertising revenue. As a result, they have asked Brown to show greater latitude in broadcast licensing.

In response to these concerns, Mr. Brown argued that granting exemptions to certain channels would give them an unfair monopoly on domestic gambling advertising. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to striking a balance between curbing gambling addiction and maintaining the financial viability of the horse racing industry.

The Irish Government’s approach to gambling regulation reflects a cautious stance that prioritizes personal privacy and the financial security of vulnerable individuals. At the same time, it also addresses the growing global focus on problem gambling.

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