Ireland’s Ambitious Gambling Law Reforms Face EU Opposition from Malta

Malta, a staunch advocate for the online gambling industry, has raised objections at the European Union level against Ireland’s plan to reform its gambling laws. Malta contends that the proposed winning limits in the legislation could potentially violate European law.

The Irish government is currently in the process of revamping and modernizing its national gambling regulations. One significant aspect of this legislation involves setting maximum limits on both wagers and winnings for specific games. Simultaneously, efforts are underway to establish a new gambling regulatory body, which is expected to have around 100 employees. The bill is currently progressing through the Oireachtas, Ireland’s legislative body.

However, Malta has voiced a series of concerns about Ireland’s proposal through the TRIS process (Technical Regulations Information System). This process requires member states to share draft legislation they believe might have implications for EU law.

Remarkably, Malta was the sole country to respond to Ireland’s proposal. Malta has a robust pro-gambling stance and hosts a substantial online betting industry, accounting for approximately 12% of its GDP according to KPMG. Maynooth University, in an analysis commissioned by the Irish Government, pointed out that Ireland stands out in Western Europe for its lack of regulation of online gambling.

Some major companies with a significant presence in Ireland are currently regulated for online gambling in Malta. Furthermore, Ireland’s Department of Justice has sought consultation with the Maltese regulator as it works to establish its own regulatory framework.

Acknowledging the impact assessment of the legislation, the Maltese government pointed out that it estimated “high levels of problem gambling in Ireland.”

In Malta’s view, Ireland has not provided adequate justification, neither through the draft Bill nor the impact assessment, as to why it has recognized the need to impose the aforementioned restrictive measure. Hence, such provision may be considered disproportionate and potentially constitute an unjustified breach of the freedom to provide services.

Maltese government
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