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Laois people against the advertising of online gambling are being urged to take part in a survey.
Laois Labour party representative Eoin Barry says his party is seeking to have such advertising banned.
“I know that this is a major issue in Laois and I hope that people take a couple of minutes to fill out the survey to help us understand the scale of the problem in our county.
“The stresses of COVID-19 have challenged the resilience and coping strategies of us all but particularly individuals with addictions who are finding it even harder to continue in their recovery and avoid relapse.”
The party says that experts report an increase in gambling disorder referrals since Covid lockdown, while Ireland has the 7th highest gambling spend in the world, at €9.8 billion.
The party's #BeatTheAds campaign has been broadly welcomed by key stakeholders including members of the GAA and the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland.
The Labour Party has published draft legislation to end the link between entertainment and betting by banning the advertisement of gambling, the Gambling (Prohibition of Advertising) Bill 2021.
Mr Barry is urging the public to share their views through the public consultation that is now underway.
“Gambling addiction is a silent scourge across the nation, which is why the Labour Party has published legislation to address this national problem. In 2019, Ireland had the 7th highest gambling spend in the world at €9.8 billion (or €379.51 per head). Our legislation to #BeatTheAds will prevent unnecessary encouragement of gambling – banning all gambling ads across the media, on public transport, billboards and online outlets.
“The gambling industry has worked particularly hard to create a strong link in our minds between major sports events and betting. Watching a match, we are bombarded with reminders to download gambling apps, or put money on the final score. In broadcast media alone, 75.4% of sporting broadcasts show at least one gambling advertisement. In fact, gambling ads are the most common during sporting events televised in Ireland, and the 7th most common form of ad shown in general.
“This legislation is more important now than ever. There have been big changes in recent years in the ease with which people can gamble due to our smartphones. Whereas previously there was some limit to the damage that could be caused as a result of people having to go to betting shops, now any one can gamble any amount of money on their phone in an instant.
“Gambling is an addiction and it should be treated as such. This should be treated as a public health issue and we need to ensure that there are adequate supports in place to help those suffering from addiction.
“In its Gambling Disorder Position paper, the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland notes anecdotal information that indicates a concerning rise in gambling disorders referrals since Covid lockdowns due to isolation, with more opportunity to gamble while working from home and higher levels of targeted online advertising.
“They see the consequences of gambling addiction on a daily basis and they have called for an immediate ban on all gambling advertising. That is what our legislation does, it is informed by medical professionals who are at the coalface of this particular public health issue.
“We are now asking for the public to share their experiences of gambling and the targeted advertising that they receive from the industry. We want views on how we can break the link between the enjoyment of sports and betting once and for all.”