Stalled Control Bill sees Irish IBA set-up ‘DIY fund’ for fighting addiction

Sharon Byrne – IBA

Frustration at the Irish government’s inability to reform the nation’s gambling framework has led the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) to form an independent trust funding gambling-harm prevention services.

The fund is being developed by IBA chair Sharon Byrne, who seeks the support of national health charities in creating an Irish network for tackling and preventing gambling addictions.

Speaking to The Sunday Times this weekend, Byrne detailed that Irish betting stakeholders could no longer wait for the government to implement the much debated – ‘Gambling Control Bill’.

“We saw no movement on the legislation so we went the DIY route,” Bryne told The Sunday Times.

The IBA chair maintains that Irish bookmakers want to be better regulated, with the nation adopting a clear mandate on betting standards and social responsibilities.

Leading the IBA, Bryne details that its members should replicate standards set by the UK Gambling Commission.

“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.”

Irish betting’s social context grabbed media headlines last week, as President Michael D Higgins stated his concerns related to gambling overexposure in sports.

Higgins suggested that perhaps the Dáil should move to ban or restrict betting advertising through sports verticals.

Furthermore, betting incumbents were criticised last month when it emerged that the Irish betting addiction helpline promoted by bookmakers had been un-manned for a significant period of time.

First proposed in 2013, the ‘Gambling Control Bill’ has seen little progress on delivering its mandate, as Irish political parties disagree on the framework’s ‘General Scheme’ and the management and function of a new independent body overseeing the Irish betting sector.

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