Sinn Féin calls for industry-funded problem gambling fund
Sinn Féin wants the establishment of a problem gambling fund financed by a mandatory levy or license fee on the industry.
The call was made as the party's spokesperson on Addiction, Recovery and Wellbeing Thomas Gould launched the party's gambling policy.
It wants the establishment of an independent gambling regulator whose functions would include administering the problem gambling fund in order to help minimise problem gambling.
The party have also called for the introduction of a requirement for age verification to precede gambling activity online.
A Sweden-style Playscan system, through which gambling online is monitored and players are alerted when they engage in behaviour that is statistically associated with the onset of problem gambling, should also be adapted, according to the policy. The gambling regulator should explore the introduction of deposit limits and daily time limits for those identified as at risk of problem gambling.
Mr Gould said people with gambling addictions have been "suffering in silence."
"We know from a European survey released this year that over 3,400 young people in Ireland have problems with gambling, and we know 23% of young boys and 7% of girls have gambled in the past 12 months... and the government's doing nothing. When you look at online gambling, gaming, and all the ways people can gamble, we have no regulation, it's frightening, it's unbelievable."
He said there are no educational programmes in relation to gambling addiction.
"Gambling comes under (Department of) Justice. We believe addiction should come under (Department of) Health, and that's one of the key points that we want to bring forward.
Government has committed by the end of the year to bring forward a gambling regulator.
This is to be welcomed. But we've heard that so many times before, because back in 2013 heads of bill were brought, and again in 2018. Here we are in 2021.
"So there are loads of issues that we have in this, and what we are asking is the government to have a look at our document. See what can we put in place, because for far too long, people suffering the gambling problems and gambling addiction have been failed by the government."
Recent research by the Gambling Awareness Trust, in conjunction with Maynooth University, estimated that 55,000 people in the Republic engage in problem gambling.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice noted that The Programme for Government includes a "clear commitment to establish a Gambling Regulator focused on public safety and well-being, covering gambling online and in person, with the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps".
"Justice Plan 2021 identifies the enactment of legislation to licence and regulate the gambling industry as a key objective."
Minister of State James Browne "expects to be in a position" to publish the Scheme of the Gambling Bill 2021 in Q3 of this year.