Lottoland says gambling Minister refusing to meet

Company fears betting and win caps in new law could hit its business

Lottery betting business Lottoland says the Government Minister promoting new gambling laws has refused to meet the company to discuss concerns raised weeks ago.

The Gambling Regulation Bill, 2022 is due back before the Dáil this week before going forward to the Seanad for further debate.

Lottoland said James Browne, the Minister of State at the Department of Justice who is promoting the legislation, had yet to meet the company over concerns about the Bill that it has raised several times.

Mike Kirwan, the company’s vice-president for UK and Ireland, said it was concerned that Mr Browne had met colleagues from across its industry but had so far refused to discuss the Bill with Lottoland.


The company, whose customers bet on different national lottery results rather than take part in the draws, fears the possible impact on its business of provisions limiting the amounts customers can stake and win in some circumstances.

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

“We find it deeply concerning that a business making consistent efforts to ensure their compliance with the law cannot sufficiently communicate with those creating it,” Mr Kirwan said.

Lottoland’s concerns follow warnings from the horse-racing industry and specialist broadcasters that a blanket pre-watershed advertising ban could hit the sport here, while bookmakers have highlighted issues with limits on promotions.

Mr Kirwan wrote to Mr Browne in early March seeking clarification of points the Minister had made in a radio interview and asking to meet him.

His letter states that the Minister wrongly told RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime that stake and win limits in the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act already applied to Lottoland.

Mr Kirwan points out that Lottoland is a licensed bookmaker, so the Betting Act, 1931, amended in 2015 to include online operators, and not lotteries legislation, covers its activities.

Consequently its Irish customers’ bets and winnings are not legally limited.

However, Lottoland fears that what it says are vague definitions of the words “bet” and “game” in the 2022 Bill could impose those limits on it and other companies.

So, while Mr Kirwan acknowledges that the Minister does not intend that the win and stake limits apply to betting, as opposed to lotteries, it is impossible to rule this out given the definitions’ ambiguity.

He notes that Lottoland had previously sought to discuss this with the Minister, as it is crucial to its own businesses.

“Clarification of these specific terms is essential in order to ensure both compliance with the regulation, certainty for existing operators/operations in the Republic and also to avoid any need to seek clarity before the courts in future,” Mr Kirwan’s letter argues.

Mr Kirwan said neither the Minister nor his department had discussed any of the problems Lottoland outlined with the company.

“We have reservations for example, regarding the drafting of this Bill with various interpretations of definitions such as ‘bet’ and ‘betting’ leaving our sector unsure of the application of provisions in this Bill,” he added. “These interpretations are crucial in the application and compliance of the law.”

The Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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