A new trust will direct funds to gambling addiction research and counseling services, as Ireland struggles to regulate its gambling industry
The Irish Bookmakers Association will pledge €1 million a year to help a newly established body to tackle problem gambling and gambling addiction in the country, local news outlet the Independent reports.
The Gambling Awareness Trust was formed just recently and aims to raise funds for research into problems caused by excessive gambling, and information campaigns. The new body will also help finance agencies that provide counseling and related services.
Former Irish Junior Agriculture Minister Tom Hayes will chair the trust. Its board will not have a representative from the Irish Bookmakers Association, it became known. An official announcement about the body is yet to be released.
News about the new Gambling Awareness Trust emerged amid growing criticism towards the Irish government, which has been delaying the adoption of a bill that aims to re-organize and regulate the local gambling market for six years now.
The Gambling Control Bill was introduced in 2013, but has seen little progress in the parliament. The piece covers areas that Ireland’s original gambling laws – the Betting Act of 1931 and the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1953 – do not include provisions for as they were both adopted way before the digital age.
Gambling Addiction Out of Control
Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers has said that gambling addiction in the country “has spiralled completely out of control and is causing much harm, and is ruining lives and tearing apart families.” The lawmaker, along with his party, is the main sponsor of the Gambling Control Bill.
He has further pointed out that fellow lawmakers have done “absolutely nothing” to try to tackle the issue and help people affected by it, and that they have “turned their backs entirely on gambling addicts” by failing to advance his legislative piece.
According to a recent drug prevalence survey released by the Irish Department of Health, nearly 5% of all men and 2% of all women reported chasing gambling losses.
Michael Devine, clinical director of Tabor Group, a Cork-based provider of residential addiction treatment services, told the Independent he was unaware of the establishment of the new trust, but pointed out that funds for research and treatment would be welcome.
Mr. Devine went on to say that while the number of gambling addicts receiving treatment by Tabor Group is relatively small, many people with other addictions also develop gambling-related addictions. For instance, cocaine addicts can develop gambling problems, he explained, because they think gambling “could result in easy money to pay drug debts.” Gambling thus becomes a secondary addiction for these people.
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