Irish Senator Calls for €100 Online Stake Limit to Tackle Problem Gambling

  • Sen. O’Reilly pointed to Ireland’s 29,000 gambling addicts in his reasoning for the limit
  • He also suggested other reform, including restricting payment methods to debit cards
  • Another senator has urged Irish sporting bodies to reject gambling sponsorship offers
  • An overhaul of Irish gambling regulation began in December 2020 with a law amendment
Person holding debit card while playing online casino
A senator in Ireland has urged the government to introduce a €100 ($122) limit for online betting stakes in a bid to combat problem gambling. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

O’Reilly makes his case

A senator in Ireland has proposed the introduction of a €100 ($122) limit on all online gambling wagers in an effort to tackle problem gambling in the country.

the Emerald Isle is home to at least 29,000 gambling addicts

According to Irish media, Fine Gael Senator Joe O’Reilly made his case to the government last week in Dublin. He said Irish bettors spend €10,000 ($12,131) per minute on gambling websites, also noting that the Emerald Isle is home to at least 29,000 gambling addicts.

The senator urged his fellow lawmakers to introduce a limit to curb these growing figures. In addition to the stake restriction, O’Reilly called for a ban on all payment methods other than debit cards. He also proposed that operators display warning messages detailing the harmful effects of gambling.

Cassells shares concern

O’Reilly is not alone in his concern over Irish problem gambling. Last week, Fianna Fáil Senator Shane Cassells urged Irish sporting bodies to “reject the lure” of gambling sponsorship. He spoke with Basketball Ireland CEO Bernard O’Byrne, urging him to convince other sporting bodies to distance themselves from the gambling industry.

the greatest weapon that gambling firms have for targeting their addicts”

As reported by the Irish Times, Senator Cassells made his opinion clear in a speech to fellow lawmakers in the country’s Senate last week. He described mobile phones as “the greatest weapon that gambling firms have for targeting their addicts.” Cassells said gambling companies “hooked people” through social media teams and targeted advertisements.

Both O’Reilly and Cassells believe the growth of online gambling in Ireland has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator O’Reilly gave Irish sportsbook operator Paddy Power as an example of a company profiting significantly from this growth. He noted that the company now generates 77% of profits from its online segment.

Ireland’s regulatory revamp

In Ireland, gambling regulation is based on legislation which was passed in the 1950s. As such, the industry remains self-regulated. Legislation drafted in 2013 to introduce an official regulator is yet to make it into law.

Irish legislators set the wheels in motion for an overhaul of the country’s gambling law last year. Lawmakers passed an amendment to Irish gambling legislation on December 1 2020. The amendment included the introduction of a licensing application process for operators and a minimum gambling age of 18.

Ireland’s Minister of State for Law Reform, James Browne, pledged to introduce further reform throughout 2021 using a “modern, sensible and effective” approach. He described the country’s current regulation as “analogue laws” in a digital world.

As part of this reform, the Irish government has established its intention to introduce an official gambling regulator by Autumn this year. The body will initially run on €200,000 ($242,484) of seed money. It will then draw funding from licensing fees paid by operators.