Sports gambling is a huge business here, as it is in many countries.
We spent €4.3bn on it this year. A few hundred thousand more than that, though, was gambled in casinos, bingo halls and on gaming machines, ensuring Ireland’s place as one of the world’s top 10 gambling countries.
Whatever the factors driving the increase in non-sports betting — economic desperation, a misguided search for a sense of community, a quest for excitement, an inexhaustible hope that the next bet could be life-changing — the catchremains the one spelt out in the 1995 film Casino: “ … the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.”
It’s a warning that is just as applicable to online gambling — in which the casinos appear to hold all of the cards — as it is to other forms; perhaps even more so.
The Government’s plans for tougher limits on payouts from gaming machines — along with maximum stakes — arewelcome, but they do not go far enough to limit the allure and dangers in the Wild West world of online gambling.