Lottery win limits would boost black-market betting, industry figure warns

Proposed gambling legislation under fire from independent operator

Government proposals to curb winnings from lotteries, bingo and casino games will drive gamblers to the black market, one industry figure warned on Wednesday.

The Gambling Regulation Bill proposes limiting wins from private lotteries, bingo and other games to as little as €3,000 and to cap bets at €10.

Mike Kirwan, vice-president of independent firm Lottoland UK and Ireland, warned that the move could drive tens of thousands of people into betting with black-market operators.

“The new measures in this legislation look set to undermine the Bill’s stated objective of harm prevention, and will only lead to the proliferation of black-market gambling,” he predicted.


Mr Kirwan added that the limits could also result in tens of thousands of people going to Northern Ireland, where rules will be more relaxed should the Oireachtas pass the Bill and make the lottery limits law in the Republic.

The law limits wins from “relevant games” to €3,000 and caps lotteries, except the National Lottery, at sums from €3,000 to €360,000, depending on their purpose and frequency.

Those limits also apply to online bingo, casino and jackpot games, prompting warnings from lottery companies and betting businesses that the restrictions will push players to black-market operators.

Mr Kirwan urged the Minister of State, James Browne, Attorney General Rossa Fanning and the Department of Justice, which is responsible for the Bill, to reconsider the measures.

Lottoland supports the Bill’s aim of reducing harm to vulnerable, according to Mr Kirwan, who noted that the company had been calling for more regulation of the industry for some time.

“However, we believe, supported by research that these arbitrary stake and win caps will not only fail to address problem gambling but they will also have the secondary effect of driving the proliferation of cross-border and black-market gambling,” he argued.

The Bill will establish a new Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland to oversee the industry and protect consumers.

However, the Lottoland chief argued that win limits would effectively drive people outside the regulator’s remit if they turned to black-market players.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas