The betting industry’s gambling support initiative has not been operational for close to four weeks, according to reports.
Fianna Fáil Dublin West TD and Justice Committee member, Jack Chambers has expressed his concern regarding the betting industry's failure to provide an efficient helpline to minimise gambling related harm in Ireland during the World Cup Tournament.
“The fact that it has been uncovered by the media that the GambleAware helpline has been unattended every day since the World Cup football tournament got underway in Russia is pretty startling in itself,” said Chambers.
"As this helpline fell silent and no attempts were made to get it back up and running, betting odds will have continued to be heavily advertised on TV, in newspapers, online pop up ads and even on radio. There is no escaping the triggers of a gambling addiction during the largest global sporting event."
He pointed out that “colossal amounts of money" will have already been gambled over these four weeks. "And as the competition comes to a close, an immeasurable amount of people will have fallen victim to problem gambling. Some may have even lost homes, their car or life savings," he says.
“The gambling industry in Ireland requires regulation; this has long been known yet blatantly ignored by this Government who has still not acted on legislation to introduce regulations. All the while knowing the dangers associated with gambling especially during events of this size and international popularity.
“The news today that not only is the helpline unmanned, the GambleAware website has been taken down just proves that we cannot rely on the betting industry to help minimise addiction or reduce gambling related harm for those consumed by their dependency.
“Our Bill specifies the need for a new social fund and self-exclusion protections to help those with or recovering from an addiction to avoid situations such as this World Cup that will most likely trigger an urge to bet.
“On one hand we urge people in difficulty with gambling to reach out for help and on the other there aren't enough active services in place to respond to their pleas.The industry body responsible for providing GambleAware cannot be let away with ignoring its obligations to provide this helpline or its webpage.
He concluded: "Our Gambling Control Bill sets out a clear framework to reach an appropriate level of regulation that would better protect vulnerable people not leave them relying on a helpline that falls silent – we need action on this now.”