Ireland Set to Ban Free Bets

A new gambling regulator is set to be established for the first time in Ireland, but as part of the proposed move, free bets could be banned.

The new bill is known as the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation and is due to take effect from early 2022. The regulator will have a slew of powers to suspend or revoke gambling licences, and there will also be much more stringent laws around what casinos can provide.

Tough New Restrictions

The bill and regulator are being introduced in Ireland as a means of providing better protection for players. Casinos will be prevented from offering enticements that could keep individuals playing for longer – and that includes free bets.

Loans or credit must not be offered to any player, and land casinos must not have an ATM on their premises. Players cannot be penalised in any way by the casino refusing bets or reducing the winnings payable.

The regulator will ensure that all casinos promote safer gambling awareness and display the terms and conditions clearly, including special events. This requirement will apply to both land and online casinos.

Big Penalties

Failing to comply with the above measures or continuing to offer features such as free bets will land the casino in serious hot water with the regulator.

If any breaches are found, the casino’s gambling licence could be revoked, plus they may be fined and, in some cases, prosecuted.

The fines aren’t an inconsequential tap on the wrist, either. A fine of up to €20 million can be imposed for a single offence. But if a licensee is involved, this can increase up to 10% of the annual revenue.

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The new regulator will be the single authority on gambling in Ireland with the power to strip casinos of their licence, suspend activity and decide whether to issue new licences. The regulator will also be responsible for monitoring gambling advertising and related activities.

A full register of all licensed casinos in Ireland will be maintained by the new body, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland.

Unpopular Move

Although there is no question regarding the importance of protecting vulnerable players, it’s likely that many will feel aggrieved at the removal of some of the more popular features.

Free bets are one of the most sought-after benefits in a casino, particularly for slot games. It’s currently possible to access multiple online slots bonuses in different forms, including free spins and free bets. With this removed from casinos, Irish players may look elsewhere to access their favourite features. For land casinos, it’s not as easy to simply switch to another venue, but for online casino players, there’s a tremendous amount of choice available.

Leading casino providers such as Entain provide these popular online slots bonuses through a range of top gambling sites online, including PartyCasino. Therefore, Irish players unwilling to accept the tough new limitations on their play may opt to vote with their fingers and move their membership elsewhere.

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