Ireland’s Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 will go to the report stage on July 11, as the government minister overseeing it aims to “clear it off and move it on”.
James Browne TD, the minister of state at the Department of Justice and Equality with responsibility for law reform, made the comments in response to questions during a debate in the legislator’s lower house on June 22.
Browne also stated that the “Select Committee on Justice insisted on four hours, a double session” to ensure it progresses smoothly.
Once the bill has passed the committee stage it will enter its final stage in the Lower House before advancing to the Seanad Éireann, Ireland’s upper legislative house.
The minister was responding to a question from Michael McNamara TD, who questioned why there is a “delay in regulating gambling”.
“You cannot watch a match on television now without being bombarded with advertisements trying to get young people to go online to gamble,” McNamara said.
Noting the recent Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) review findings, which revealed Irish problem gambling has probably been underestimated and causes “serious harm”, McNamara said, “we need to act with urgency on this issue”.
A previous review by the ESRI published in January 2023, which based its conclusions on the longitudinal Growing Up in Ireland study, suggested that legislation could be introduced to restrict gambling advertising in sports as an effective method of protecting some of those who are especially vulnerable to gambling harm.
The ESRI review was part of a report commissioned by the Department of Justice and the implementation team for the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland.
The review was also mentioned in a separate Seanad Éireann debate on June 22.
Senator Emer Currie called for a “body of work” to be created about “schools, and the growing awareness of gambling in schools”.
Currie called for an update on the Gambling Regulation Bill and “a debate around social, personal and health education, SPHE, and where gambling and other things fit into the curriculum”.
Currie went on to explain that she is involved with the charity Gambling with Lives, which has a pilot that was run in schools in the north of the country.
Senator Lisa Chambers, the leader of the Seanad appointed by the Taoiseach to direct government business, said she would get an update on the ESRI report.
Chambers said the government has been “proactive in tackling gambling” and praised sports personalities for talking publicly about their struggles with gambling addiction.
“There is much more discourse about the issue now and we are starting to clamp down on advertising to young people. There is greater responsibility being placed on gambling companies so we are moving to a different space on this topic and are more informed than a number of years ago,” Currie said.