A new bill in the Dáil Éireann, the Assembly of Ireland, seeks to introduce a blanket ban on the use of credit cards for online and in-person gambling, looking to provide protection for those who are at risk of spending money they cannot afford to or do not have, The Irish Times reported.
Protect Vulnerable People
The Betting (Prohibition on Use of Credit Cards) Bill that was introduced by Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould is imposing a blanket ban on the use of credit cards for any wagering or gambling. The national lottery has also undertaken steps to ban credit cards, while the industry is more in favor of optional bans in limited situations, Thomas Gould outlined.
“The problem with optional bans is that they can be withdrawn as easily as they can be introduced. If bookmakers are losing money or customers due to these bans, then where does that leave vulnerable people,” Thomas Gould rhetorically asked, stressing the importance of banning betting through credit cards in any circumstance.
There are an estimated 55,000 adults in Ireland suffering from gambling problems, with many more others at risk to develop gambling addiction and these people need to be protected, Gould continued. The bill would at least provide one of the protections the Government promised back in 2013, but never delivered, Gould noted. He underlined the need “to ensure that those with problem gambling behavior” or “in the throes of addiction” are not doing this with funds they do not possess and cannot afford. The industry also recognized the need for such a ban, he concluded.
Easy Access to Gambling
The need for the blanket ban is supported by data reported by charities that the lockdowns resulted in a 46% rise in problem gambling issues, with the bulk of gambling moving online via PCs and smartphones, while the disruptions to sports calendars shifted gamblers’ focus to poker.
The bill comes hot on the heels of another restrictive legislation, the National Lottery (Amendment) Bill, introduced last week by Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward, seeking to prevent betting shops and all commercial or private gambling establishments from offering additional betting on the National Lottery numbers.
Unlike the bill seeking to ban credit cards, the lottery amendment bill was not introduced to protect people from excessive gambling, but funds that leak out to commercial and private operators, rather than remain with the lottery and be spent for good causes.
The Government agreed to allow the credit card prohibition bill to reach committee stages for scrutiny. Further, it pledged to appoint a regulator for the gambling industry by the end of the year.