David Stanton Calls for Irish Gaming Commission in 18 Months
The Irish gaming industry gave full support to the government’s proposal of an independent gambling regulator. David Stanton, a junior minister known for his pro-gambling regulator stance, said gaming companies understand the stakes.
David Stanton, who serves as Irish Minister of State for Equality, Immigration, and Integration, gave a public statement which said, “You are going to be talking about money laundering, you’re going to be talking about problem gambling, enforcement, licensing, research, regulation, inspection, so you could have up to 100 people working in this authority with that kind of expertise.”
The Equality Minister announced plans for an independent gaming regulator earlier this year. Officials suggest that an Irish Gaming Commission (or whatever it’s called) makes gaming regulation more efficient.
David Stanton recently gave a seminar where he explained the process. He claimed the Irish gaming regulator would launch in roughly 18 months time.
Irish Gaming Commission Must Be Self-Financing
David Stanton said in his remarks at the seminar, “The establishment of effective modern licensing, regulation and enforcement of the Irish gambling industry will require significant resources. A gambling regulatory authority will have to be, to a large degree, ultimately self-financing, with income from application and licence fees as well as fines imposed on operators.”
“The Group recommended a rationalisation of the number of licensing categories. These would involve licensing terms and conditions that would be clear, fair, legitimate and transparent to all. This includes provisions designed to prevent unfair practices by gambling operators through certain types of gambling offers. The Group recognised that revised licence fees — likely greater than those currently applying now — will be imposed.”
David Stanton Calls for Independent Commission
At the same seminar, the junior minister emphasized the need for the agency to be “independent”. By that, Stanton means it should be free of influence from government overseers and industry executives.
Like in other advanced countries and states, the government should appoint a qualified director, then give that director full authority. Gaming executives should know they cannot lobby the gaming commission, but instead understand they are under its auspices.
Independent of Government Officials
Some countries place gaming oversight under its lottery commission, but that would be a mistake. Lottery directors sell gaming to the public. If they regulate the rest of the industry, they have a dual role as gaming executive and regulatory official. The dual role causes conflicts of interest over time.
West Virginia in the United States recently placed oversight of online gambling and sports betting under its state lottery. Several Canadian states created a similar setup.
The Philippines allows its gaming regulator, PACGOR, own land-based casinos.
Irish Gaming Commission’s Authority
Just as important, a potential Irish Gaming Commission should be free from influence by the gaming industry itself. The Coalition government in Australia set up oversight councils full of former gaming executives. Having come recently from the gaming industry, such regulators are too close to the industry they police.
Instead, David Stanton believes the Irish gaming authority should be free to impose fines and penalties on the Irish industry. The UK Gambling Commission imposes fines of hundreds-of-thousands or even millions of dollars on violators of UK gaming law.
While a regulator must be fair and even-handed, industry executives should be respectful (if not fearful) of the regulator’s authority. The Irish regulator should represent the interests of the consumer and the Irish public — not the industry itself.
Gaming Commission’s Harm Minimization
During his remarks to those present at the gaming seminor, he gave what amounts to a mission statement for the commission. Stanton said, “Measures to protect vulnerable persons, or those prone to addiction, in the context of gambling, were recommended by the Working Group. These include age restrictions, staff training, self-exclusion measures and possible controls on advertising, promotions and sponsorship.”
“A further critical recommendation is the establishment of a Social Fund supported by industry levies. This Fund would be managed by the new regulatory authority with mandatory contributions as part of licensing conditions. While the authority might use some of the funding for direct information and prevention campaigns, expenditure on treatment programmes should be dealt with by relevant health professionals.”