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Highly Anticipated Irish Gambling Regulation Bill Hot Topic at One-Zero

Monday, 25 March 2024

One-Zero, where sport, business and technology collide took place at AVIVA Stadium last week in Dublin. 

The conference featured an impressive line-up of speakers including legendary sports promoter Eddie Hearn, Manchester United all-star turned entrepreneur Louis Saha as well as three-time Super Bowl winner Lonie Paxton and emerging technology innovator Daniel Wyles from Flutter Entertainment. 

Over two days of panel discussions key figures from eCOGRA and brands such as Under Armour, Eurovision, PGA, Boca Juniors, Colo-Colo and England Rugby spoke on topics including innovation, strategy and performance.


One-Zero, globally renowned for showcasing the best in sports technology, business and innovation, this year branched out to include the betting and gambling industry, with a panel discussion on the highly anticipated Irish Gambling Regulation Bill. 

The panel, moderated by Sarah Curran, Head of Marketing at eCOGRA, global leaders in Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) featured a number of gambling industry experts including Graham Ross, Head of Operations in Europe for PointsBet FBG, Martina Cilia, Manager of International Affairs & Policy Strategy at the Malta Gaming Authority, and Niamh Gallagher, Marketing Manager at Mindway AI.


The discussion kicked off with insight from Graham from the viewpoint of existing operators and relevant providers, noting that majority of stakeholders are broadly in favour of the proposed regulatory overhaul. “Anyone coming at it from any sort of reasonable perspective is very much in favour of a fit for purpose regulatory framework. But we don’t need to reinvent the wheel in doing so.” 

He spoke also of the positive stories from Irish based operators and their global contribution to the gambling industry. “They (companies like Flutter and Pointsbet FBG) drive a lot of innovation. So there's a lot of positive aspects to the industry. But the negative aspects around some of the more high-profile problems that have come from the lack of regulation locally, particularly around problem gambling, overshadow the positive story that can still come out of effective regulation.”


Martina built on Graham’s points noting that there are learnings to be shared between regulators, particularly in European jurisdictions. “From our end, we always say we want to build those relationships with other regulators, and we want to better our relationships with the industry as well, and to understand what the challenges are. But we also want to make sure that it’s protecting the players as well.” 

She also referenced the player protection directive which states that B2C licensees must appoint an independent alternative dispute resolution body. “As a regulator, we need to protect the players and the MGA is to be completely autonomous and transparent with the players. 

However, we do look at the complaints from a regulatory compliance perspective. So we look at whether there was any wrongdoing on the part of the licensee, whether they were acting unlawfully, and whether they were offering services or games that were not fair and transparent for the player”.


Niamh added an interesting comparison which highlighted the potential for the Irish economy “Preparing for the panel, I was looking up the revenue or GGR for gambling in Ireland and in 2022 it said that it was €2 billion. That's on par with Irish beef exports, just to put it into context.”


She also referenced the need for a holistic approach to player care, pointing to the UK as an example of this “I think self-exclusion as a tool is good, but it's not enough on its own, as by the time someone self excludes, often significant harm has already taken place so that is why early detection is crucial. I think an innovative and layered approach is needed. 

So that's what we've seen in the UK, where you have an exclusion register, you have blocking software, and then a national helpline as well. So in the UK they did that for the first time, in 2020 with Gamcare, Gamban and Gamstop.”


Key takeaways from the panel include:

Wide range of stakeholders in the Irish market endorse the need for a robust regulatory framework but concerns remain around aspects of the draft legislation regarding their feasibility to deliver operationally and their fitness in terms of meeting policy goals. 

Relationships with regulators in other jurisdictions create the opportunity for shared learning and innovation.


The revenue opportunity for the Irish economy is substantial, but player care is a priority.


The data around key issues such as problem gambling will be much more accurate once there is a regulator in place with a consistent research approach over a prolonged period of time.


An ADR entity requirement separate to the regulator would allow a more impartial dispute resolution process.


Early detection is key when it comes to the identification and intervention of problem gambling behaviors.


eCOGRA, who are accredited by the Irish National Accreditation Board (‘INAB’) and offer a full scope solution in TIC services to the online gambling industry opened their Irish office last year in Dublin. They welcome the introduction of the new Irish regulatory framework as they continue to expand their global service offering. One-Zero returns to Dublin in March 2025 to continue the conversations shaping the future of sports, business, technology and gambling.

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