Irish Govt urged to stand firm over plans to tackle ‘tsunami’ of gambling problems

The Irish Government has been urged to defy the gambling industry’s attempt to weaken proposals that stop children being drawn into gambling.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, consultant psychiatrist Professor Colin O’Gara said Justice Minister James Browne TD has been doing the “right thing” by resisting “non-stop incessant pressure”, but the proposals are taking “too long” since being introduced in 2022.

The Gambling Regulation Bill – which is under consideration by the Seanad – would establish a national regulator, create a social impact fund to address problem gambling, and ban advertising across on-demand services, television and radio between 5:30pm and 9pm.


Speaking at the latest debate on the Bill, Senator Shane Cassells said: “Why are the bookmakers so worried about not being allowed to advertise? They make enough money – billions – as it is.

“It is because advertising works, not only in recruiting new young customers to their wares, but also in breaking the resolve of addicts who are in treatment for their addiction and getting them hooked on gambling again.”

Senator Mark Wall also challenged calls to weaken proposed restrictions on inducements of ‘free bets’.

He added: “For too long, the gambling and marketing companies have normalised gambling in sport, portraying sporting occasions as reasons to gamble”.


Deputy Browne told Senators: “The Bill will regulate an activity that there has been no attempt to regulate since the 1950s but that is causing a tsunami of social problems in our society.”

He previously called the proposals “crucial”, highlighting that gambling is “destroying people’s lives every day.

“The idea that we would not pass gambling legislation is absolutely horrid and would be a failure of this Parliament.”


In the UK, the number of people seeking help for problem gambling rose by over 10,000 last year.

More than 52,000 people called the National Gambling Helpline in 2023 asking for support or counselling, up from around 42,000 in 2022.

Also see:


Man who started betting at 8 years old gambled away over £100k

Report: ‘Govt must act to stop children being lured into gambling’

Ex-Scotland manager: ‘The shame and lies of gambling convinced me to finally stop’

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