Politicians Taking Photos Betting on Themselves Should Stop, Says Chair of Ireland’s Fine Gael Party

Politicians should stop taking pictures of themselves placing a bet on them winning an election.

Need for a Culture Shift

This is the view of Martin Heydon, chair of the Irish Fine Gael parliamentary party.

In a report from The Irish Times, he said: “This needs to be stopped, just like where we stopped taking visiting dignitaries straight to the pub for a pint. That kind of culture change is important and an independent office will bring that about.

Heydon also called for regulation of online games, which can be accessed by children as young as 10. In his opinion such games can be very addictive. He mentioned loot boxes, the problems with them currently the subject of much debate, which he notes can be purchased by children to help them advance in a particular game. However, they often turned out to “just be rubbish.”

The Dutch and Belgium authorities have taken a firm approach to loot boxes, stating that they violate gambling laws in each jurisdiction. However, the French regulator doesn’t agree. More recently, though, an Irish government department signed a declaration expressing its concerns over the risks to young children who gamble in popular games.

In September, it was reported that the Gambling Policy Division of the Irish Department of Justice, in addition to authorities from 14 other countries, had signed the declaration. The report noted that if a law is introduced it could place video games in the same light as online poker and bookmakers.

Heydon claims a regulator is needed because legislation is not keeping up with technological advances.

He said: “I know apprentices earning €200 or €250 a week who manage to get three or four credit cards and they will run up a debt of €20,000 before their parents found out.”

However, with the increase in smartphones it’s now possible for people to go online without having to set foot inside a betting shop.

The Irish Times states that David Stanton, a Fine Gael politician and minister of state, will publish further legislation by the end of the year for the Gaming and Lotteries Act. A betting regulator will also be introduced, which has been on the back-burner for five years due to legal problems.

This may be the way forward for Ireland, which, according to researchers from the University of Dublin, states that people with gambling addictions may start their habits from as young as nine years old.

Gambling Advertising

Another much debated issue is gambling advertising.

Australia is one country that has taken steps to ban gambling adverts before and after live events. However, this is only five minutes before and five minutes after.

For some, such as Lord Chadlington, a member of the UK’s Conservative Party, this is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done. He believes restrictions should be extended to an hour before and an hour after. Only then can viewers, particularly young children, stop being “overwhelmed” by gambling adverts.

Taking a step away from its strict approach to gambling sponsorships, Formula One revealed last month that it had signed a $100m gambling sponsorship deal over a five-year period. Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years, was of the opinion that gambling endorsements could damage the sport’s image.

However, Liberty Media, which acquired the business in 2016, thinks differently. It remains to be seen how this will impact the sport, but according to Sean Bratches, managing director of F1’s commercial operations, this would help to improve it.

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