Dáil hears calls for stronger regulation of 'wild west' gambling sector

Fianna Fáil's Jack Chambers has said "problem gambling has spiralled out of control"

Dáil hears calls for stronger regulation of 'wild west' gambling sector

Jack Chambers. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Dáil has heard calls for stronger regulation of the gambling industry, which has been described as a "wild west sector".

Fianna Fáil's proposed legislation is looking to 'protect vulnerable persons' and achieve 'fairness in the conduct of gambling'.

The bill would see the establishment of am Office of Gambling Control (OGCI) to control gambling in Ireland.

It's estimated around 40,000 people in Ireland have a gambling addiction, and Jack Chambers says it's a problem that needs to be addressed.

Speaking in the Dáil, the Fianna Fáil TD argued: "Problem gambling has spiralled out of control. Thousands of lives have been ruined by a failure to regulate the gambling sector - homes taken away because of massive debts... lives lost by depression and suicide.

"We have 1930-era laws for 2018 problems... it is a wild west sector that has been left to regulate itself, to play by its own rules."

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, meanwhile, said he the Government is not opposing Fianna Fáil private member's bill.

He highlighted 2013 plans to introduce revised gambling laws, but acknowledged there was a need to review the plans due to the "rapid evolution of the gambling sector".

Minister Flanagan argued: "A new modern gambling legislation, in conjunction with independent regulation, offers the best route to enhanced consumer protection, increased Exchequer revenue from that industry and development of a full range of treatment and mediation methods to address problem gambling by those agencies competent in this field."

He added: "I need not remind members of this House, how important locally run lotteries are to the financial wellbeing of many sports clubs and community groups.

"Deputies will appreciate how important it is to update the law regarding the promotion of fund raising lottery activities at local level for charitable and philanthropic purposes and to streamline the application process for permits and licenses."