Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte is calling for the Gambling Control Bill to be pushed through the Dáil to control the largely self-regulated industry.
The Gambling Control Bill aims to establish a legal authority to govern gambling in Ireland, including advertising, licensing for casinos and online gambling, and puts a heavy focus on protecting children and supporting addicts.
“There is no doubt that the gambling industry in Ireland is a substantial employer,” Deputy Rabbitte said, “but it does require effective regulation. It’s an industry that has been let away with a lot in recent years and that needs to end.”
The Bill has passed its first reading in the Dáil and is now before the Committee for debate and amendment.
Deputy Rabbitte and co-sponsors of the bill, Dublin West TD Jack Chambers and Dublin Bay South TD Jim O’Callaghan, have written to the Chairman of the Justice Committee asking for the Fianna Fáil bill to accelerated through the Committee Stage.
The request to advance the Bill comes just as the 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia, where massive amounts of money will be gambled through sports bookies like Paddy Powers, but also increasingly through online casinos.
Deputy Chambers said that there has been a growing need for there to be some legislative control of gambling in Ireland since the last World Cup in 2014.
“Despite being made well aware of the dangers associated with gambling since the last World Cup four years ago, the Government has still not acted on legislation to regulate the gambling industry.
“Millions will be gambled over the duration of the World Cup over the next month just as it was during the 2014 tournament. Betting odds will be heavily advertised during every game, after all this is the single biggest gambling event in the world.”
The sponsors of the bill also spoke of the dangers of online gambling and the need to protect children and recovering addicts from it, an issue of concern here, and for authorities abroad, see more about the regulation in the UK.
“Our Gambling Control Bill sets out a clear framework to reach an appropriate level of regulation that would curb advertising and better protect vulnerable people.” Deputy Rabbitte said.
Justice Spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan said: “We need to be in a strong position to offer better support to those struggling with an addiction to gambling, and also to assist their families.”
Some form of gambling regulations have been gathering dust on a shelf since they were first proposed back in 2013, but have only recently been pushed forward in the Dáil.