Irish political parties push for gambling reform

Ahead of Ireland’s General Election on 8 February, some of the country’s major political parties have pledged to make a number of reforms to the country’s gambling sector.

Publishing its manifesto, governing party Fine Gael has committed to introducing an independent gambling regulator in order to address the issue of problem gambling.

Its manifesto said: “We will introduce an independent gambling regulator to ensure that abuses are eradicated and public safety is protected. We will emulate best practice in the design of the new regulatory body and ensure that it is equipped to respond to a rapidly evolving gambling environment.

“We will review the controls that exist in relation to access to, and the behaviour of, gambling apps and websites; and, if the existing controls are not sufficient to prevent underage or vulnerable people from gambling, we will mandate the regulator to put strict controls in place.”

The party, which is also predicted to have the second-highest number of seats in the Dáil, has also pledged to “increase awareness of the range of interventions for the treatment of gambling, providing access to assessment and individual counselling services”.

Fianna Fáil has also pledged to establish an independent regulator as part of its policies for “safe and socially responsible gambling” in their manifesto.

“Fianna Fáil is committed to implementing regulation for socially responsible gambling,” the party manifesto said. “This means setting out clear regulations to prevent the sector doing harm.”

Alongside the creation of an independent regulator, Fianna Fáil – which is projected to gain the majority of seats in the Dáil – pledged that it would introduce age restrictions, gambling limits, cooling off periods and a ban on gambling with credit cards.

“Limits to the amounts available and strict cooling-off periods will help prevent serial gambling abuse,” the party said.

“Fianna Fáil is committed to implementing regulation for socially responsible gambling. This means setting out clear regulations to prevent the sector doing harm. After a decade of delay Fine Gael has no credibility on this serious problem that is silently destroying lives.

“We need effective regulation for this industry to give those who work in the sector certainty through socially responsible gambling. We are committed to working with the industry to build this new framework but the time for delays has long since passed. Legislative action is now needed.”

The introduction of ‘cooling off periods’ will be supported by a ban on credit card gambling, a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling adverts during live sporting games, ‘strict controls’ on gambling advertising and an end to loot box gambling.

Sinn Fein, who currently place third in the polls, have not yet released their manifesto to the public.

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