Govt must seize opportunity to protect problem gamblers
- Labour Bill would ban all gambling ads
Welcoming the report of the Oireachtas Justice Committee which recommends banning ads by betting companies before the watershed, Labour sports spokesperson Mark Wall said government must go further and ban all ads from gambling companies.
Senator Wall said:
“We know that gambling companies are actively targeting our young people, particularly through sport, so the recommendation of the committee to ban these ads before watershed is a step in the right direction. Labour is calling on government to have the bravery to go one step forward and ban all gambling ads full stop.
“It has been an exceptional period of flux for these companies that have had to adapt to the changes in people’s behaviour during Covid, and they did so expertly. There has been a phenomenal increase in online ads, on social media, on YouTube, on the TV. We need to counteract this and break the hold of these companies over vulnerable people.
“There have been multiple reports on gambling addiction over recent years. Indeed, the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland indicated a concerning rise in gambling disorder referrals during the various lockdowns. Research published earlier this year by the Health Research Board (HRB) indicates that there are approximately 12,000 problem gamblers in Ireland and a further 125,000 people who are ‘at-risk’ gamblers. These people deserve better and we are demanding that government steps up for them.
“Often hidden in society, problem gambling is impacting so many families throughout the country. Since I introduced this legislation in April 2021, our offices have been inundated with families getting in touch, telling their stories and supporting our call for a full ban on gambling ads. We need to put controls in place now to protect those who are vulnerable to behaviour addiction. Government has a real opportunity to be global leaders in this space if they just have the ambition to do so.”