Ireland to Appoint Gambling Watchdog
Ireland’s Minister of State for Justice, James Browne, announced that the country will have an “extremely powerful” gambling watchdog by the end of the year. The regulator’s primary focus will reportedly be on public health and wellbeing.
The watchdog will have around 100 employees and be backed by comprehensive legislation set to be introduced in September. The regulator will also be authorized to develop and standardize regulations and impose fines on those who do not abide by the rules.
According to Browne, this “is not simply a regulator, but they will have a public health remit as their primary focus in every decision and recommendation they will make.”
However, lawmakers from the Labor Party have already voiced concerns about the timetable, insisting that the planned appointment cannot come soon enough.
“We cannot wait that long to ban gambling advertising,” said Labour Senator Mark Wall. “What really disturbs me most is that there is no watershed on gambling advertising in this country. And our children and young adults are being exposed to highly addictive behaviour.”
He pointed out that Ireland has the seventh highest gambling spend in the world, which amounts to €9.8 billion (€379.51 per head). Wall says media campaigns are fueling the high figures. According to a recent online Labor survey, 80% of respondents noticed a surge in gambling ads.
“It’s deeply concerning to read that children as young as six years old are asking parents questions about these ads that they are seeing on TV; this early association will only lead to problems in the future. We need to stop linking betting with the enjoyment of sports and entertainment,” Senator Wall added.
The Senator acknowledged that banning advertisements will be challenging. He pointed to content that comes from neighboring countries like the UK, where Paypal casino sites and other gambling venues have also been experiencing a surge in the number of users since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.