Ahead of new gambling regulator

William Hill halts credit card online betting in Ireland, an IBA's code policy

2022-02-15
Reading time 2:15 min

As of Wednesday, William Hill will ban the use of credit cards for online betting in Ireland, to avoid contraventions of the Irish Safer Gambling Code set by the Irish Bookmaker Association (IBA), as the country awaits a new gambling regulator to be established in the country. 

“It’s our ambition that nobody is harmed by gambling and we’re getting in touch to let you know that we will be voluntarily removing credit card deposits as a payment option,” the company stated, as reported by the Irish Independent

It was the same publication that revealed some weeks ago that a number of major betting companies still accept credit card payments directly in the country; and some others which claim not to accept credit card bets do so indirectly through apps such as Apple Pay and Revolut. It was also disclosed that Apple and Google had provided Irish betting apps with a method to stop credit card gambling through Apple Pay and Google Pay.

The head of the Irish Bookmakers Association, which includes operators BoyleSports, Ladbrokes, Bet365, Betway, Kindred, and sets the anti-credit card policies in the country, has said it has no power to sanction credit card gambling because the Irish government has not formally outlawed it. 

The government is expected to introduce a new gambling regulator that would have powers to fine betting firms, and credit card betting is set out to be one of the measures outlawed. The regulator’s appointment is estimated to happen around the end of the year, or early 2023. 

The Bill to regulate Ireland’s gambling industry was published by the government in October 2021, and aims at replacing older ones, which go back to the 1930s and are deemed “outdated”. 

Titled the General Scheme of the Gambling Regulation, the legislation sets out provisions for a new regulator for the industry, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, and also introduces new player protection measures. 

Providers breaking the rules introduced by the state’s first gambling regulator can be fined up to $23.2 million, or 10% of their turnover. Among the banned activities are offering free bets, incite a person to keep gambling, and offering credit or loans to players.

The new law provides the regulator the authority and power to suspend or revoke licenses and to administer financial sanctions. It will also have the option to block remote or online access to a provider’s service in the country, or completely shut down operations. 

Offshore betting companies such as BetVictor still allow direct credit card deposits for Irish customers. In BetVictor’s case, the company does not allow their customers to bet using that payment method in the UK, where it is against the law. 

The ban on credit card betting online and in shops was established in August last year, by the Irish Bookmaker Association. Operators also agreed to halt “whistle-to-whistle” advertising during live sporting events before 9 pm. 

Flutter Entertainment enforced similar measures earlier in 2021, as well as the National Lottery which banned that payment method in online ticket purchasing operations. 

The new measures are part of a revised Code for Practice for Safer Gambling which “outlines a comprehensive set of industry commitments across a range of player protection measures”. 

Ireland has been described by gambling awareness campaigners as the “wild west” for regulation of the online space. Big companies such as William Hill and BetVictor are regulated from Gibraltar or Malta.

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