While the land based casino industry in Ireland has suffered during the last year over COVID-19, the same cannot be same of online gambling operators.
iGaming operators have reported an increase in online player traffic and a boost in gaming revenues. While this has turned out to be a positive for iGaming operators in Ireland, it has also had a negative impact as the number of problem gamblers has also increased.
Professor Colin O’Gara who consults as an addiction psychiatrist for the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland said that problem gambling had already reached the point of no return in Ireland and the government needs to wake up and take immediate action before things get even worse.
O’Gara said that problem gambling was especially evident with young Irish men. While online gaming operators in Ireland place an emphasis on responsible gambling and have self-exclusion tools to protect problem gamblers, Professor O’Gara says that there is enough evidence from the last 15 years to suggest self-exclusion tools have no real impact when it comes to preventing problem gambling and protecting the vulnerable.
Darren J. Prior / Mac an Phríora
iGaming Regulation The Best Solution
Gambling opponents concur with Professor O’Gara and claim that the best method to reduce the spread of problem gambling in Ireland is to come out with stringent gaming regulation that limit the freedom of iGaming operators and offer better protection to Irish players.
The UK has also had to deal with problem gambling and the UK Government has finally proceeded with a review of the 2005 Gaming Act and is set to introduce a number of new measures to reduce problem gambling in the UK. Ireland needs to take a cue from Britain and also make significant changes to its archaic gambling laws.
Professor O’Gara said he had a meeting with Junior Minister James Browne who informed him that government was working on gaming regulation and should have new measures in place before the end of 2021.
The focus is going to be mainly on the Irish iGaming market as stats has shown in recent months that Irish punters are moving away from retail betting and turning their attention to online betting and online gambling. There has also been a call for licensed gaming operators to do more and donate more to combat the rise of problem gambling in Ireland.