Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform urges regulator Liam Sloyan to look at online gambling impact on problem gambling
Liam Sloyan, the lottery regulator in Ireland, was under pressure Tuesday when he appeared before lawmakers on parliament’s Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, where he was urged to be more transparent, and to demonstrate that he is investigating the impact of online gambling on problem gambling.
Sloyan answered questions regarding his oversight on Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI), which was awarded a 20-year licence to operate the National Lottery in late 2014 after paying the State Euro 405 million, and has since launched a significant number of online games, raising concerns about potential added risks to addictive gamblers.
The regulator assured members of the committee that he remains “very focused” on monitoring online gaming, and noted that it was relatively easy for users to register multiple accounts online to play games.
However, he declined to discuss in detail means by which users could register different online gaming accounts on the National Lottery website, saying that he didn’t wish to publicise the ways by which the operator seeks to close such loopholes.
Several lawmakers questioned the efficacy of the regulator in policing the activities of PLI and how it was marketing its online games.
Sloyan responded by saying that he was satisfied with the additional online games that had been introduced by PLI, and said his office used a number of methods for establishing whether an individual game was suitable, including consulting academic research and checking with in-house experts.
Retail ticket sellers clearly felt they had a dog in the fight as well; earlier the committee heard from Tara Buckley, director general of RGData, which represents the interests of more than 4,000 independent retailers, who said her organisation is deeply concerned about the increase of online games available to play on the National Lottery website.
Buckley said that RGData has had little contact with the regulator since his appointment, despite her members being affected by the technical outages that led to a National Lottery draw being postponed for the first time in late 2015.
On behalf of the trade body, Buckley said she was worried about the growth in online gaming and its possible impact on individuals with gambling addictions, who can now play games anywhere, any time.
She added that she would prefer that the regulator demonstrate more effectively what is being done to safeguard the community.
“The regulator should outline the measures he has taken to protect vulnerable players and to replicate the types of controls on purchases in traditional shops,” she said.
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