Irish Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, has suggested that problem gambling should be treated as a public health issue, as opposed to an issue with regulation.
Stanton, who is responsible for overseeing regulation in the Irish betting industry, has claimed that imposing more stringent controls on the industry is a possibility, but it is not in his remit.
Speaking at the Oireachtas Justice Committee, Stanton commented: “Even in jurisdictions where they have very strong regulation, they still have problem gambling and addiction.
“If someone has a gambling addiction, it is primarily a health matter and that person needs treatment.”
The statement comes as the Irish Government has outlined plans to establish a regulatory office tasked with overseeing addiction, advertising and online gambling issues.
“We can make it fair and we can look at things like glamorising [gambling] and advertising. But if someone has a health issue, it is a matter for the Department of Health,” he said.
Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers, however, was critical of the stance by pointing out that gambling regulation should form a part of Stanton’s responsibilities.
“That is like the Minister for Justice telling us that he has no responsibility for the healthcare of prisoners in the prison system. That is just a nonsense argument,” Mr Chambers responded.
Stanton has previously come under fire for his views surrounding gaming machines. When asked whether or not the use of gambling machines was illegal, Stanton emphasised that he was not in a position to comment.