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Gambling Legislation Planned to Protect Children

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Two Bills are set to be published in the Irish parliament in the next few weeks that legislators hope will protect children from gambling.

The news comes at a time when prominent YouTuber Jake Paul, who boasts up to 18 million subscribers, has been widely condemned for promoting a website called Mystery Brand, which offers so-called ‘mystery boxes’ containing random gifts in exchange for money.

The controversy over ‘mystery boxes’ is parallel to the issue of ‘loot boxes’ in video games, which offer players upgrades and aesthetic bonuses through microtransactions. Loot boxes have been criticised in a number of countries and the Belgian government have ruled that loot boxes are a form of gambling, while games producer EA was forced to make adjustments to its Star Wars Battlefront 2 game last year after a storm of protest over loot box content.   

Speaking about the trend for loot boxes and similar promotions, Jack Deacon, of the youth organisation Spunout, said that children are at a particular risk if exposed to gambling promotions:

Studies have shown that in Ireland in terms of young people becoming addicted to gambling they are at a much higher risks than adults because of online gambling – because it’s so accessible nowadays.”

According to the Fine Gael parliamentary party Chairman, Martin Heydon, the Gambling Control Bill and amendments to the Gaming and Lotteries Act will be put forward in the next few weeks and will seek to address a range of gambling issues, including the protection of children.

Among other measures, the Gambling Control Bill aims to set up an independent regulatory body that is able to oversee the entirety of gambling in Ireland, and that will have the power and flexibility to respond to new developments in a rapidly-changing industry.

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