Fianna Fáil vows to tackle scourge of online gambling addiction

Fianna Fáil is to tackle as a matter of urgency in Government what it describes as the 'dysfunctional legislation' which it maintains is an open door to online gambling addiction.
Fianna Fáil vows to tackle scourge of online gambling addiction

Fianna Fáil is to tackle as a matter of urgency in Government what it describes as the 'dysfunctional legislation' which it maintains is an open door to online gambling addiction.

Limerick TD Niall Collins said online gambling is now "a Wild West free-for-all which requires urgent action".

"Thousands of people are having their lives and those of their families thrown into financial ruin through the scourge which is spiralling out of control by the day," he added.

Mr Collins said the existing legislation dates back to the 1950s and responsibility for the gaming and gambling sector is divided between different government departments and this has to be tackled.

"Online gambling has a huge grip on thousands of people who have been driven into addiction," he said. "The evidence from the last economic crash suggests that online gambling will get even further out of control as we hit into a major economic crisis. Many will be tempted by the prospect of an easy gain and turn to online gambling'.

A senior addiction counsellor at Cuain Mhuire recently warned in the Irish Examiner that an increasing number of women are contacting it for help because their gambling habits online have gone out of control.

Mr Collins said his party three years ago unsuccessfully introduced a bill to set up a gambling regulator for the gaming and gambling sector.

"Things are totally dysfunctional now. The government had a new gaming and lottery bill ready last year but this died with the last Dáil. The drafting of a bill is already in place and it wouldn't take much time to bring it into Leinster House."

He said in this country we spend more money per capita on gambling than any other country in Europe: "What's out there now is a mess with local by-laws allowing casinos to open in some places and preventing them in other places. But the sad story is wholesale misery."

Alan Shatter when he was Minister for Justice brought in a Bill on gambling in 2013 but when he left office it lost traction.

As things stand there is no lead government department to deal with issues relating to gambling. New legislation is going to be a priority for whoever is the next Minister for Justice.'

Mr Shatter told the Irish Examiner: "The Bill I prepared in 2013 was designed to redress changes in gambling such as online gambling. It is disappointing that the law was not changed. We need comprehensive new gambling legislation to deal with the way gambling has evolved. Irish law in this area is out of touch and anachronistic'."

Michael Guerin, a senior addiction counsellor with Cuain Mhuire said: "Gambling has historically been a problem area for men. However with the expansion of online betting platforms we have as many women as men contacting us as they find themselves in trouble with their habit.

"Online gambling is a solitary -secretive pursuit and highly addictive. New legislation is badly needed."

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