Labour sports spokesperson Senator Mark Wall said the recent furore over the National Lottery is but a distraction from the true harm caused by gambling advertisements. Marking the run up to the busy Christmas sports season, Senator Wall said people should be able to enjoy the darts and the football without being constantly pushed to place a bet.
Senator Wall said:
“Christmas is a bookies dream and a gamblers nightmare. So many of us look forward to the Christmas sports season but it is hugely triggering for those with gambling addictions and their families. Coupled with the financial pressures of the season, the constant bombardment of ads pushes and pushes people into placing unnecessary bets.
“The gambling industry has worked hard to create a strong link in our minds between major sports events and betting. Problem gambling is a behavioural addiction which is what these ads feed off of. These ads are pushing people to gamble and there are no controls in place to protect those who are vulnerable to addiction.
“This Christmas, Labour is reiterating it’s call to government to grasp the nettle and ban gambling ads once and for all. The government has committed to the establishment of an independent Gambling Regulatory Authority that would deal with issues like potentially banning advertisements however, the Regulator’s appointment is not expected until 2023. Many families cannot wait another two Christmases for this.
“Earlier in 2021, the Labour Party carried out a survey that 1170 people responded to, three out of four people said that know a problem gambler. 80% of respondents were in favour of an outright ban of gambling ads across media to end this cycle of pain. Gambling addiction wreaks havoc throughout communities – harming the gambler and those around them. People are exploited and groomed by the industry through advertisements. This industry needs to be better regulated.
“Over the coming weeks we will be bombarded with gambling ads online and in the media in the run up to the Christmas sporting season. Labour’s Gambling (Prohibition of Advertising) Bill 2021, would ban all gambling advertisement in Ireland, divorcing the gambling industry from the everyday enjoyment of sports. Since introducing this legislation into the Seanad, I have been inundated with messages and calls from people wanting to share their experience or offer their support for our bill to ban all gambling advertisements.
“The government could act now on this and support our legislation to have it in place before next year’s Christmas sporting season. The level of addiction and affliction in communities up and down this country demands serious action. We had this argument around the tobacco. Time is ticking.”