State has questions to answer about how it encourages some forms of gambling – Senator Mullen

“How can gambling be regulated to ensure it does not damage the dignity of citizens or their families”
During a debate on gambling addiction in Seanad Éireann, Senator Rónán Mullen and others called on the Government to accelerate plans to introduce a Gambling Regulatory Authority.
As well as speaking about the effect that gambling has on families, Senator Mullen raised the role that the State has in promoting many forms of gambling, and the impact that the problem may be having on rural Ireland.
Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Mullen said:-
“Gambling is not inherently wrong, but we have to confront the fact that it is doing great harm to some people’s lives. The most difficult feature of the problem is the impact it has on families. Generally, we associate gambling as a problem for men only, but research carried out by the Rutland Centre shows that increasingly it is becoming a problem among women also.
“We have to ask how this problem can best be regulated to ensure it will not damage or impinge on the dignity of citizens or their families.
Senator Mullen also questioned whether the State encouraged certain forms of gambling:
“We must ask if the State encourages many forms of gambling in unhealthy ways. There is almost a cult surrounding the Lotto and the EuroMillions in which the media play its part. I am not aware of any research to determine the amount the average person might spend on the Lotto each week, but I am sure there are some who participate to an unhealthy degree.
“It seems there is double-think on gambling which perhaps often mirrors the doublethink on the problem of the excess consumption of alcohol, on the one hand, and the inability of the State, on the other, to really grasp the nettle in dealing with that issue.
Senator Mullen addressed the impact gambling may be having in rural Ireland:-
“As a person who comes from rural Ireland, I have noticed the presence of bookies’ and betting shops in towns where very little else seems to be happening. What does that say about people’s dependency? It is a tragedy that towns that are down at heel in many ways still seem to have thriving betting shops.
Senator Mullen concluded by praising voluntary groups who are working to assist those who are struggling with gambling addiction:-
“I pay tribute also to the people who are tackling the problem. There is real hope for people with addictions, including gambling. I had the good fortune to visit Tiglin recently to see the wonderful work being done, staff and former clients. I also acknowledge the great work being done by Sister Consilio and Cuan Mhuire. They are the real heroes.
“The State should take the lead from their courage, initiative and persistence to come up with solutions to the problem; solutions that are long overdue.
See full text of the Seanad statements on this issue here