Government must fund gambling addiction support services - Lynn Boylan MEP
Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan has called for Minister David Stanton to introduce interim measures to help curb gambling addiction.
Speaking from Dublin, Ms Boylan said;
”The Gambling Control Bill was first published in 2013 and for the last four years very little has happened to progress it. Minister Stanton is promising legislation in the next 12 months but we do not need to wait for the legislation to introduce interim measures.
"There is a clear lack of urgency in dealing with gambling addiction in Ireland despite all the indicators showing that Ireland has a serious problem.
"A recent H2 report showed Ireland to have the third highest gambling losses per head in the world. The Public Health Institute estimates that Ireland could have as many as 40,000 problem gamblers with gambling among adolescents 2-3 times higher than adults. Some 50% of gambling losses in Ireland are lost through online gambling.
"Online gambling across the EU is governed by internal market rules but there is scope for a derogation to allow for Member States to enact measures that are designed to help curb gambling addiction.
“Before the minister signs off on any draft legislation, he should leave the EU Commission in no doubt that Ireland intends to seek such a derogation. Ireland is an EU outlier in the extent of its gambling losses and is therefore well placed to argue for such an exemption.
"Closer to home there are also measures he can take. Currently there is no ring fenced funding to tackle gambling addiction. The betting tax, already one of the lowest in the world generates €27 million euro, €6 million of this is ring fenced to support the bloodstock industry yet not a cent of it goes to supports for gambling addiction.
"Minister Stanton must now start lobbying at the cabinet table for ring fenced funding from the betting tax to go towards gambling support. This is not about banning gambling, it is not about calling for draconian measures but it is about ensuring that those who do have gambling problems get the support they need and are not vulnerable to online exploitation by betting operators.”