Irish Lawmakers Call Out Government For ‘Illegal’ Gaming Licenses

Posted on: August 8, 2022, 07:41h. 

Last updated on: August 10, 2022, 03:43h.

Online casino and slot operators in Ireland are receiving licenses that allow them to offer their platforms legally. Now, lawmakers want answers.

Irish parliamentarian Verona Murphy
Irish parliamentarian Verona Murphy speaks to reporters following a legislative session. She is raising awareness that Ireland’s government may issue gaming licenses illegally. (Image: Irish Examiner)

The Irish government’s revenue department is responsible for issuing gaming licenses, provided the operator’s activity falls within the legal scope of permissible options. For now, this means online sports betting with no slots or casinos.

But Verona Murphy, a legislator in Ireland’s lower parliament and the Irish Road Haulage Association president, discovered that some licensed online platforms aren’t lining up lines for NFL or EPL games. Instead, they only offer online gambling options. As a result, these platforms have legal authorization to offer illegal activity across Ireland.

…[There] is no legal basis for online gaming in Ireland and many of the activities and services that are being offered online or via Apps are effectively illegal under the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956,” said Murphy.

Murphy recently lodged her concerns with Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

There’s plenty of access to legal sports betting in Ireland, with laws and regulations on the books since 2015. There is also legal coverage for land-based casinos. However, it would seem that Irish authorities are giving online “sports betting” licenses to operators with nothing to do with sports betting.

Bending the Laws

Barry Grant, a project manager and addiction counselor at Extern Problem Gambling, supports Murphy’s assertions. He refers to Ireland’s online gaming ecosystem as having a “wild west” mentality with no controls.

The country is issuing “remote bookmaking” licenses to operators. However, Grant points to several who have no involvement in sports betting. Among these are and Evoke Gaming, which offer slots and online gaming.

In addition, Casumo has an online casino, and Lottoland offers lottery products. However, all options are illegal according to Ireland’s gaming framework.

There is also a problem with unlicensed operators accessing the Irish consumer. Grant adds that “hundreds” of these are easily available within the country’s borders and that it’s up to the government to implement measures to block them.

Government Okay With Current System

There has been talk about updating Ireland’s gaming regulations, but the process is moving slowly. Certain changes may be on their way. However, major reforms are still a long way off.

Murphy is concerned about the money drifting out beyond Ireland’s borders by the lack of controls. She wants the government to “get a grip” on online casinos and slots and to update gaming laws as soon as possible.

For its part, the government feels it has a good handle on how things are progressing. Donohoe addressed Murphy’s concerns, highlighting the government’s desire to introduce a gaming regulator.

In addition, he pointed out that the government has no alternative but to issue a remote sportsbook license to a company that meets the requirements. However, what he didn’t address, according to The Irish Sun, is specifically whether any operators are breaking the law by offering online gaming products.

Ireland has been working on new gaming laws for the past several years. It recently put into motion its new Gambling Regulation Act, which includes the introduction of a new Gambling Regulatory Authority. It’s a slow process, with many moving parts that the government must first get in sync.