The Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) will introduce a number of reforms to the country’s betting industry via a new ‘Code of Practice on Safer Gambling’.

Reflecting developments on the other side of the Irish Sea, the code will implement an industry-wide ban on credit card actions across both online and retail channels through the Republic of Ireland.

Additionally, IBA members will pledge to make ‘voluntary contributions’ to the Gambling Awareness Trust’s (GAT) Social Responsibility Fund (SRF). These finances will be used by GAT, which independently operates the SRF, to “fund problem gambling counselling, prevention, education, research, and awareness services in Ireland’.

“We recognise that there is a need for the industry to continue to develop the highest of standards for safer gambling,” said Sharon Byrne, IBA Chairperson.

“We believe in particular that the credit card ban and the ‘whistle-to-whistle’ advertising restrictions are significant steps on that path.”

Further RET commitments will see all IBA members participate in the Irish government’s Gambling Prevalence Study with the aim of informing understanding of the impact and exposure of problem gambling on the nation’s health and wellbeing.

The IBA disclosed this weekend that both Irish retail and online bookmakers had agreed to follow the new industry rules, standards and code of conduct on safer gambling and player protection duties.

Online operators will be required to safeguard their services with ‘customer-led controls’ requiring seamless access to deposit limits, session time-outs and providing customers’ information on their gambling spend/habits.

Adhering to new obligations on advertising, IBA members will observe a pre-9pm watershed ban on gambling advertising during general broadcasts, accompanied with a whistle-to-whistle advertising ban on live sports programming.

New marketing standards will be applied to sports sponsorships, that will no longer be allowed to display betting brand logos on under-18 merchandise and with sponsorship’s promoting ‘safer gambling messaging where possible’.

Meanwhile, for retail operators, the new code has prioritised staff training to improve the ability to identify problem and at-risk customers, as betting shops pledge to operate safer gambling environments maintained by strengthened ID verifications, customer care interventions and better documentation of incidents.

Launching the updated responsibility mandate for Ireland’s betting sector, the IBA stated that the code carried the support of – BarOne, bet365, BetMcLean, BetWay, BoyleSports, Casumo, Chieftain, Entain, Flutter Entertainment, Fox’s Betting, QuinnBet, SBO Bet, Sean Graham, Track Sports and Tully Bookmakers.

Closing its statement the IBA has urged the Irish government to maintain its pledge to reform the nation’s gambling laws that have not been updated since the 1950s.

Last year, the Irish government’s proposals to establish an independent gambling regulator to oversee the licencing of all gambling operators received the ‘full backing’ of the industry.  Yet, following the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the creation of an Irish gambling regulator has been delayed until ‘at least 2021’.

Byrne continued: “The IBA has long called for the establishment of a regulator in Ireland. This Code is not the answer to problem gambling and we believe there is more that can be done within the forum provided by a regulator.  However, we believe that these measures continue the journey the industry has been on in recent years, to ensure standards are increased for all.”