ADDRESSING the negative effects of compulsive gambling, the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) has established a trust fund to finance addiction services.
The IBA declared this week that it will liaise with the charity’s regulator and register an organisation within the next two weeks.
The aim is to bridge the gap in the perceived failing of the government’s regulations to properly help problem gamblers.
The chairperson of the IBA, Sharon Byrne, said the bookmakers want to be regulated in accordance with the long-awaited Gambling Control Bill.
“We saw no movement on the legislation so we went the DIY route,” she said.
The Irish gambling industry has come under intense criticisms for failing to address gambling addiction.
Gambling companies had set up a helpline for addicts, promoted by bookmakers, but it emerged last month that the helpline was not active and had been left unmanned for about a month.
Ms Byrne indicated bookmakers preferred to be under regulation, like in the neighbouring UK, which has been a leader since 2007 when the Gambling Commission was established.
To create awareness of the new trust, Byrne said a joint Responsible Gambling Week is to be held across Ireland and the UK this year.
“Our plan is to be ahead of any regulation that will come in Ireland,” she said.
“There is a blueprint for what is done in the UK, which our members already adhere to, so we’re going to follow that where we can.
“The UK is the most stringent system in many ways and we plan to be ahead of that in Ireland. That’s our motto.”
In 2013, Fine Gael proposed a Gambling Control Bill, which underwent parliament scrutiny three years ago and currently undergoing an interdepartmental review.
However, since the bill is seeing no progress, the Fianna Fáil, who are the conservative party in Ireland, has listed its own bill in accordance with the delayed bill.
The bill has reached the committee stage but needs bipartisan support since the bill suggests gambling companies be levied to support a social harms fund.
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