A local addiction treatment service has shared that the number of gambling addicts in Ireland is a lot larger than the official estimate.
The Times has reported that according to the Rutland Centre’s Chief Executive Officer Maebh Leahy the number of problem gamblers in the country is almost three times higher than the estimate provided by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland. As explained by Ms. Leahy, the Institute had used the 2010 statistics when announcing that there were approximately 40,000 gambling addicts in the country.
Ms. Leahy claimed that there were a more recent survey in Northern Ireland, according to which the problem gamblers rate in the region amounted to 2.2%, rather than to 1% as found by the 2010 statistics. That would mean that if the information revealed by the new survey is accurate, the number of gambling addicts in Northern Ireland equals to 110,000. According to the Rutland Centre’s CEO, the newest results on the matter meant that regulators and charitable organisations had absolutely no reason to believe that the Ireland figure would be smaller than the one for Northern Ireland.
After making these revelations, Ms. Leahy reached to members of the lower house in the Oireachtas and senators as part of the upcoming debate on the gambling bill proposed by Fianna Fáil. According to the addiction treatment service’s head, the proposed piece of legislation suited the local gambling sector in case that the actual rate of gambling addiction was not known. She also called for an official study to be initiated as soon as possible and shared fears that more than a million people could be dealing with problem gambling behaviour and its consequences.
Long-Delayed Fine Gael Bill to Bring Changes
The Irish Republican Party, Fianna Fáil, has presented a piece of legislation aiming to move forward with the long-delayed Fine Gael gambling bill. The latter has seen no progress since 2013, but the Republicans have been seeking to see a special independent regulatory body established.
As mentioned above, the bill has seen very little progress for half a decade now. After the analysis of the Rutland Centre was presented, one of the members of the Oireachtas’ lower house – Jack Chambers – commented on the information describing it as concerning.
The local Government has started working on an updated version of the 2013 bill, but it failed to provide any timeframe for the completion of the process. It is expected to contact industry stakeholders, seeking to get their opinions on the bill, but has previously promised to unveil legislation that would be focused on providing strong customer protection. As previously reported by Casino Guardian, this would be the first crucial reform of Irish gambling laws in six decades.
The new gambling bill is expected to provide a revision of the licensing process, as well as regulation of online gambling operations. In addition, gambling operators would be required to make contributions to a specially created social fund in order to be given the chance to offer their services to local customers.