In its dedicated responsible gambling week, Irish bookmakers have called for an independent regulator to be established as soon as possible to investigate measures needed for increased social responsibility.
The Irish Bookmakers Association will meet members of the Dáil and Seanad last week as part of a push for full regulation of the sector.
Sharon Byrne, chair- woman of the association, said that the regulator should initially be established to conduct research into problem gambling before full powers are delegated when other aspects of the bill are passed.
“With the new momentum behind the bill it would be possible to introduce the regulator without the full bill being passed,” she said.
“They could begin researching what is needed and begin an education programme.”
Bryne added that the association’s members had indicated that they would fund research and education independently of the government, but that it would be preferable to establish a state regulator.
She stated the industry had already begun to increase social responsibility measures of its own accord.
“In recent years we have made changes to improve customer protection and to provide services for those who may need some help,” commented Bryne.
“Funding the gambling services provided by the Dunlewey Centre, which operates a helpline and nationwide network of counsellors for people affected by problem gambling, was one of the first steps. We will continue to try to improve player protection and have a series of initiatives we hope to launch this year.”
A spokesman for the justice department said that David Stanton, the junior justice minister, welcomed the responsible gambling initiative, but wanted to see details of how any proposals from the industry would work in practice.