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In the Past

Throughout the recent times, there has been a growing demand for all types of gambling in Ireland.


Casinos, slots and betting parlors cropped up in great numbers across the country. Having acknowledged the flourishing market at some point around 2006, the Government also noted that the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956, which was in effect at the time, was entirely unsuited to regulate modern gambling. Described as "minimalist in nature'', the outdated legislation was drafted way back when casino-style gambling did not even exist in the present-day sense of the term. In fact, the conditions outlined in the Act rendered the majority of contemporary games practically unlawful. It was, therefore, decided that better regulations are necessary. In pursuit of a satisfactory solution, the Department for Justice, Equality and Law Reform appointed the Casino Committee to investigate the matter thoroughly and produce a report complete with recommendations for regulating gaming in Ireland.

Primary Objectives of the Gaming Regime

In December 2006, the Committee proposed a legislative basis for an effective regulatory system, which addressed all problematic areas and introduced strategic objectives behind the policy to:

  • Ensure fair and transparent gaming and protect the interests of consumers
  • Prevent money laundering and infiltration of criminal groups
  • Appoint a gaming regulatory authority to license premises, operators, suppliers and key employees strictly
  • Establish appropriate taxation, economic and licensing procedures for both terrestrial and remote gambling
  • Differentiate between various gaming categories 
  • Ensure that the licensing and regulatory regime is flexible enough to respond to new developments
  • Facilitate research and cooperation with other relevant agencies in relation to problem gaming

Current Licensing System

After multiple amendments and revisions, Ireland has devised a framework which, in its current form, corresponds to the proposed laws only to a certain extent. While it can be successfully applied to most, if not all, aspects of the gambling scene in the country, the system is primarily tax-focused, lacking somewhat in relation to player protection measures, software supplier licensing and the full scope of e-gaming services.

Having in mind the complexities of the modern-day gambling industry, achieving a proper regulation quickly and efficiently is extremely difficult. The government considers the legislation a work in progress, with the goals that should not be viewed as ''immediate'', but rather as ''ultimate'', meaning they are always in pursuit of better solutions under given circumstances.

There are several types of licenses issued in Ireland, each by a different government-empowered entity. In addition, various certificates which are mandatory within the application and licensing procedures are granted by separate national agencies. The laws differentiate between the following permits:

  • Remote bookmakers and remote betting intermediaries license granted by the Revenue Commissioners
  • Lottery licenses issued by the District Court
  • Amusement Halls with four sub-types of licenses: general and machine-specific permit, gaming license and gaming machine license 

All permits have a duration of three months up to one year, with the initial fee of €10,000, and renewal costs, based on turnovers, up to €200,000.

Having in mind the complexities of the modern-day gambling industry, achieving proper regulation quickly and efficiently was extremely difficult. The government considered the legislation prior to 2022 as a work in progress, with the goals that should not be viewed as ''immediate'', but rather as ''ultimate'', meaning they were always in pursuit of better solutions under given circumstances.

The interactive market was finally regulated in its entirety on August 1, 2015, upon implementing the Gambling Act. However, there was still much work to do. For instance, the Government updated the Gaming and Lotteries Act in 2017, setting a minimum gambling age of 18 across all verticals. The legislation also clarified existing regulations concerning charitable lotteries and raffles.

Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration suggested in 2018 that an independent authority be tasked with regulating the industry rather than leave it to the Department of Justice, as was the case under the 2015 bill.

Additionally in 2018, the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Act 2018 was signed into law by the president, bringing casino operators under the purview of anti-money laundering laws.

Before the 2020 general election, Ireland's top political parties made a commitment in their political manifestos to create an independent gambling regulator to address the issue of problem gambling. Later that year the government declared that the formation of an independent gambling regulatory body would be postponed until 2021.

On December 1, 2020, the Gaming and Lotteries Amendment Act 2019 went into effect. The Act was designed to act as a stop-gap measure ahead of the thorough revision of gambling law that was expected to come to pass in 2021.

Throughout the following year, several areas of concern saw positive movement forward such as a proposed ban on gambling advertisements other than sponsorships. Additionally, the Irish Bookmaker’s Association (IBA) put into effect a blanket ban on gambling advertisements during live events and a blanket ban on gambling with credit cards. Later in the year, legislators introduced legislation to ban credit-based gambling on land and online.

Late in 2021, the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries, and Amusements Bill was submitted to the cabinet for consideration in an attempt to completely overhaul the country’s gambling regulatory

Framework. The bill was signed into law in May 2022.

In late 2022, the bill was approved for publication. Among other things, the Gambling Regulation Bill would ban gambling advertisements on television from 05:30 to 21:00 and online advertising would only be made available to those who choose to receive it.

A prohibition on deposit incentives such as free bets, VIP (loyalty) programs, and special offers like bonuses is also included in the bill. A new regulator was authorized to oversee the entire gambling sector, enforce laws, and organize a new three-tier licensing system for B2C, B2B, and charitable organizations.

The Gambling Regulation Bill

The General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation Bill was published in October 2021. The full document is well over 220 pages. It can be read in its entirety (here) in PDF form.

What the Gambling Regulation Bill Does

As promised, the Bill thoroughly restructures gambling regulation in Ireland. Following is an overview of the new law.


Creates a dedicated regulator for the first time

The Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI) replaces the hodge-podge of state-level administrative bodies that handled licensing and regulation in the past. The new body has wide-ranging powers. In addition to replacing the former licensing framework and implementing enforcement measures, the GRAI is responsible for protecting vulnerable members of Irish society including gambling addicts and minors.


The Bill is to be implemented in a series of phases with lead-up and transitional elements meant to make it understandable and more easily adapted by existing and future operators. While not a piece-meal approach, this part of the equation remains a mystery to the public and quite possibly to Ministers themselves as they put the pieces together one after another.

Modifies gaming license categories

B2C Licenses - The prior system only dealt with business-to-customer (B2C) licenses. This category remains and will be added to by two additional categories, each with its own purposes. These are Business to Business (B2B) licenses and Charitable/Philanthropic licenses.

B2B Licenses - Gambling products and services supplied to licensed B2C operators in ireland must be delivered by licensed B2B providers.

Charitable/Philanthropic Licenses - Fundraising through “gambling” should be a lot easier for organizers under this new license category that previously had no unified protocol. A single type of license will be issued under this category, a "gambling license for a charitable or philanthropic aim". The license will allow the operation of games, lotteries, and some types of betting activities, but not all of them.

Opens up the online gambling market

This part of the Bill adds iGaming (casinos, etc.) and iLottery licenses to the existing licensing of remote bookmaking and betting intermediary licenses (B2C). Under these provisions, a registry of all customers will be created and must be populated by operators prior to offering services to a new customer. It also requires operators to provide Terms and Conditions to prospective clients and to abide by them.

Gambling services may not be provided on certain days and at certain times. Some of these are already written and the GRAI is empowered to add other blackout periods in the future.

Parental controls must be provided as well as responsible gambling information.

Prohibits credit facilities and cards for any gambling

While not an entirely new provision, this is simply baked into the unified law. While it brings Ireland in line with prohibitions in Great Britain, it seems to have created a specific carveout for the National Lottery. As written, residents will still be able to use credit to buy National Lottery products.

Advertising and marketing limitations

While much of this part of the Bill is crystal clear on what is, and what is not acceptable (mostly enticing minors) there is currently no known framework for bonuses and other incentives. Those will be hammered out and phased in as time goes by.

National Gambling Exclusion Register

This section deals with “self-exclusion” and requires operators to block the activity of any registered person and to flush their accounts (refund any balance) within 7 days of being notified.

Creates a Social Impact Fund

Annual contributions from licensees based on their yearly turnover will make money available to the GRAI to fund research and initiatives. “Common good” organizations can apply for funding in order to help combat gambling addiction and any other social harm legislators expect to come from gambling.

Reporting requirements

The GRAI will be able to request compliance reports from all licensees for the first time. While this can be done at any time, there is also a provision for a maximum 14 day compliance period when the information is requested.


The Act lists a variety of compliance and other offenses aimed at operator behavior but there are also provisions to sanction advertisers as well.


This is, of course, the teeth in the Bill that empower the GRAI to do its job. Among remedies available, the GRAI can revoke licenses, seek orders from the High Court, or simply issue non–non-compliance orders and then follow up with license suspensions or more serious sanctions.

  • Customers can lodge complaints directly with the GRAI
  • Agents will have broad investigatory powers
  • The GRAI can seek emergency orders with the Court
  • Fines can be up to 10% of the year’s turnover or up to €20,000,000

Further Reading

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