Bookmakers in Ireland agree to two primary changes to Safer Gambling Code

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In Ireland, a ban on the use of credit cards in retail shops and online for Irish patrons has been agreed to by bookmakers while also accepting a pre-watershed “whistle-to-whistle” advertising ban for live sport.

The pair of initiatives are a part of an amended code of practice for safe gambling brought by the representative body of the country‘s bookmaking industry, the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA). The updated code outlines a set of minimum commitments by the industry across a range of measures to protect players.

According to the IBA, all of its members, including Ladbrokes owner Entain, Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment and Boylesports, are set to adopt the most recent version of the code. Bet365, Betway and The Kindred Group, which is responsible for brands such as Unibet and 32Red, are among the many other major operators that will reportedly adopt the updated code. 

Step in the right direction:

Chairperson for the IBA, Sharon Byrne, said the body recognizes the need for the industry to develop the highest standards for safer gambling and that the ban on credit card use and whistle-to-whistle restrictions are “significant steps on that path.”

“The IBA has long called for the establishment of a regulator in Ireland”, says Byrne, “and we welcome the Government’s commitment to legislating for that in the coming period,” she said.

Byrne went on to explain that the code is not the answer to problem gambling and they believe that more can be done “within the forum provided by a regulator.” However, she said, “we believe that these measures continue the journey the industry has been on in recent years, to ensure standards are increased for all.”

Compliance by year’s end:

Lauded by the body as “groundbreaking in its reach,” the code (pdf), which has been adopted by every IBA member and the lion’s share of licensed online companies that operate a sportsbook or casino in Ireland, will reportedly be fully operational this year. As mentioned above, the code represents a set of minimum commitments by the industry.

The code, according to the IBA, has been updated overall, with the two main changes being related to credit cards and advertising. Updates are already reportedly in place for some operators while others are set to make the “necessary technological changes” in their respective businesses no later than the end of 2021.

Other restrictions:

A restriction on television advertising involving live sporting events before 9pm will also be introduced by the industry and will be effective from 5 minutes prior to the start of a live event until 5 minutes after (whistle-to-whistle) its conclusion. Horseracing and greyhound racing are not included.

Sponsorship of television entertainment programs is included in the gambling adverts restriction, however, it does not include televised sporting events.

Byrne said they believe the changes are important for customers and that they represent “the single widest industry initiative seen in Ireland since the introduction of Safer Gambling Week.” She added that they hope the “few operators” who have yet to endorse the code “will do so before long.” And they “look forward to working with the proposed regulator to adopt further evidence-based measures.”

Northern Ireland:

Earlier this year, it was announced that for the first time in 35 years “significant changes” will be made to gambling laws in Northern Ireland. Included in legislation to be introduced, is permitting bookmakers to open for business on Sundays and Good Friday while permitting children to play gaming machines will be an offense.

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