| 10.4°C Dublin

Civil servant in charge of gambling laws attends controversial industry event

 

Close

'Mac Namara attended a number of GREF meetings during his visit.' (stock image)

'Mac Namara attended a number of GREF meetings during his visit.' (stock image)

Pedro Salaverria

'Mac Namara attended a number of GREF meetings during his visit.' (stock image)

The Department of Justice sent a senior civil servant in charge of reforming gambling legislation in Ireland to a highly controversial global gambling industry showcase in London last week.

The ICE Expo at London's Excel Arena was described by one British Labour MP as "archaic and beyond disrespectful" because of the use of scantily-clad women by betting companies to advertise their wares.

The Department of Justice and Equality said that its Principal Officer Brendan Mac Namara "is the official responsible for the development of new legislation on gambling activities" and that he had "attended the ICE Expo in a professional capacity".

Mac Namara is the departmental representative to the Gaming Regulators European Forum (GREF), an international organisation for regulatory organisations and relevant EU ministries.

"GREF meetings are traditionally arranged at the Excel Expo Centre in London to coincide with people's likely attendance at ICE," it said.

Mac Namara attended a number of GREF meetings during his visit and did not have meetings with companies at the event, the department said.

"ICE is perhaps the foremost global gathering of gambling industry representatives and regulators. It provides a very useful indication of trends in the gambling industry that are valuable to regulators," it said in response to Sunday Independent queries.

In 2018, Sarah Harrison, the then head of UK regulator the Gambling Commission, had threatened to boycott the event in future.

"You saw men representing their companies wearing expensive tailored suits whilst their female colleagues were expected to wear nothing more than swimsuits. I say bring this to an end now," she told reporters after attending the show.

Harrison has since stepped down and her replacement delivered a speech at this year's event.

Nevertheless, there was further media criticism last week, with reports that exhibits at the event were "fronted by models in highly sexualised or revealing outfits", including cat suits and Playboy bunny outfits.

Sunday Indo Business