The Irish Times view on the new gambling legislation

New rules to control gambling are overdue - much now rests on the detail and the effectiveness of the new regulator for the sector.

Gambling adverts are everywhere, as anyone who has ever switched on a television or clicked on a website, particularly to follow sport, will know. It is therefore right and proper that the Government should overhaul antiquated gambling laws designed long before the digital age from which the gambling industry has profited so significantly.

There is much that is good in the regulations approved by Government this week: bans on gambling advertising between 5.30am and 9pm and advertising aimed at children and problem gamblers, along with prohibitions on betting on credit cards and placing ATMs in some areas.

The devil will, as is typical with this kind of sweeping change, be in the detail of the work of the Gambling Regulatory Authority, the new State regulator that will police these new rules. The regulations place a huge burden on this new authority, which has a big job in regulating a powerful industry.

The problems it must address are significant. A Health Research Board report found that 12,000 adults are problem gamblers and 35,000 were moderate-risk gamblers, with a further 90,000 low-risk gamblers. A report from the Oireachtas justice committee found that 3,400 young people were “engaged in problem gambling in Ireland.”


Clinical experts have spoken about the devastating financial, social and health effects of gambling addiction. They have also pointed to the scale of the medical, public health and social justice challenge facing the new regulator.

The Social Impact Fund, set up in the regulations to fund treatment and education from a levy to be imposed on the industry, will only work if this important society-benefiting tax covers the significant cost of providing a nationwide network of support services for gambling addiction.

This is an industry worth ¤8 billion which can afford to pay for the damage its activities cause to some customers and go some way to addressing the imbalance between the vast profits it makes and the public support mechanisms required to help problem gamblers.