Delayed move on curbing gambling industry welcome
- Regulator must move to end scourge of gambling ads
Labour sports spokesperson Mark Wall said an overhaul of Irish gambling laws is well overdue.
Welcoming Minister Browne’s decision to finally bring the gambling regulation bill to cabinet today, Senator Wall said government has dragged its heels on tackling the gambling industry, despite it impacting almost every community across the country.
Senator Wall said:
“A reform of the gambling laws is desperately needed and hasn’t happened since the 1950s. When you think of how the industry has developed and changed over that period, it beggars belief that these laws haven’t been tackled. Today is an important step forward and will represent a step in the right direction for any family or community that has been impacted by problem gambling.
“Problem gambling must be tackled by the newly appointed authority, it must have sufficient teeth to do so and to make some change for people and communities impacted by problem gambling. It is not going away.
“As recently as July of this year, Cuan Mhuire reported a rise in gambling addiction. Research published earlier in 2022 by the Health Research Board (HRB) indicated that there are approximately 12,000 problem gamblers in Ireland and a further 125,000 people who are ‘at-risk’ gamblers. Any further time wasted on tackling the industry through legislation will mean more and more people will become captured by problem gambling.
“News that the Gambling Authority will be operational in 2023 is welcome, the sooner the better. However, there were other options available to this government to take on the industry and introduce change for people at risk of problem gambling, particularly those who may have found the incessant online ads over lockdown particularly challenging.
“Labour introduced a Bill in March 2021 which would implement a blanket ban on gambling ads. Had government been brave enough to support our legislation, we could have already begun to turn the tide on problem gambling.
“I am calling on the Authority to immediately look at the hold this industry has over people through advertisements. We’ve seen an increase of ads in the run up to the rugby internationals, turn on any football game and there’s ads before during and after the match. When the darts start over the Christmas period, it will be the same story. It’s not good enough and we need to step up as a nation, be brave and take on this industry once and for all.
“Often hidden in society, problem gambling is impacting so many families throughout the country. I can’t understand why government has been so slow to regulate this industry that is really impacting people financially, emotionally, socially. 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.”