Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan has commended a recent report by Dr Crystal Fulton of University College Dublin which looked at global trends in the gambling industry and is intended to influence and help shape policy and future legislation.
MEP Boylan said:
“This 140 page report by Dr Fulton, prepared for the Department of Justice, covers a range of areas, specifically international legislation, gambling industry mergers, services provided to problem gamblers and gambling technology.
“It is a comprehensive and informative piece of work which again raises many issues around problem gambling and the conduct of the gambling industry in the absence of ample regulation and oversight.
“In particular Dr Fulton highlights an issue which I have raised in the past, that a lack of regulation for advertising, in particular online advertising, can present problems for at-risk and problem gamblers.
“Some simple changes that could be made to the advertisement of gambling in Ireland would be the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland implementing a 9:00 pm watershed, as is the case in Britain.
“But we need to go even further than that. In particular we need to offer better protection to young people given that the Institute of Public Health in Ireland estimate that adolescent gambling is two to three times the rate of adults.
“The online industry uses sinister techniques to manipulate its users, making young people particularly vulnerable. Incessant promotions are used if there is a period of inactivity and its users are specifically targeted on other social media platforms.
“The same online gambling industries are happy to put in place restrictions on users when they are being too lucky but are not prepared to implement similar restrictions when problem gambling patterns emerge.
“The issue of problem gambling is not a minute issue, recent studies have shown that Ireland has the third highest rate of gambling losses in the world per capita, and over 50% of those losses is through online gambling.
“Ireland’s Institute of Public Health believes that there could be as many as 40,000 problem gamblers in Ireland, with an additional 400,000 Irish people whose lives are being negatively affected by their friend or family member's addiction.
“As outlined in Dr Fulton’s report, we need to build on existing legislation and bring forward new legislation to help regulate the gambling industry, not in a punitive way, but rather in a way that allows the industry to exist while protecting vulnerable and young people.
“The Gambling Control Bill has been on the statute books since 2013, with no sign of movement.
“There has been complete inertia from the government in relation to this issue while the problem of gambling has accelerated in the same period.
“We need to act immediately by bringing the Gambling Control Bill before the Oireachtas. This will give politicians, experts, civil society, and the industry the chance to engage in dialogue and debate around the best way to shape legislation that will set appropriate standards for operators to adhere to in the public interest.”