President Higgins Shares His Thoughts on Gambling and Sports

Higgins making a public appearance

In recent weeks, Ireland has been increasingly active insofar as its gambling and sports betting segments have been concerned. We know for a fact that Dublin has been taking the gung-ho approach on unregulated slot machines, asking casinos to comply with the law by the middle of August. Now, the country’s President, Michael D. Higgins, is also stepping up his stance on the matter.

TV on the Radio with Mr. Higgins

Speaking in an interview on Radio One for the Sunday broadcast, Irish President Michael D. Higgins sounded composed. His accent was distinctly Irish and he spoke with rhythmic clarity, taking multiple questions form his host. And so, it came to pass that Mr. Higgins discussed gambling and sports betting.

Mr. Higgins treaded carefully on what appeared to already be a divisive issue. He outlined a scenario where sports and gambling should be separate activities and cited the rather increasing numbers of gambling addicts across the nation.

He was right to point to the increase in the number of addicts, but with it, a new problem was postulated, that of secret addiction. Unlike the United Kingdom, Ireland has a rather laxer approach towards gambling, often turning a blind eye. This has created a dangerous precedent whereby customers can continue to flick wagers without being offered help or scrutiny.

Mr Higgins account on the radio program was concise and to the point. He argued that exposing vulnerable sports enthusiast to gambling practices is unwise and comes along with distasteful consequences. He also acknowledged that the activity may still continue as long as people are prepared to handle the downsides of betting.

The Issue in the Shadows

Irish gambling has been growing to the point where observers and customers ought to ask themselves questions such as how to uphold the best practices very much alive and guarantee that when faced with the symptoms of problem gambling, a proper solution can be found.

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has seen a modest increase in the number of players who have requested help in 2017. With 77 registered problem gamblers, the real numbers are likely to be much higher, of course. However, the lack of public debate makes such gamers to keep to themselves and not be aware to the possibility of actually suffering from gambling addiction.

The GAA has been also stepping up its game insofar as gambling is concerned, asking sporting bodies and organizations to oust any partnerships that come from gambling companies.

Understandably, bookies have rallied their efforts to protest the issue, saying that sports and gambling are inherently link, especially in their part of the world where sports bookies have been operating for decades.

Of course, any solution in the extreme will be counter-productive and risks to endanger any undertaking, but all in all everything is feasible if the topic is broached. However, bans will never help problem gamblers. Instead, they may push them away and into the paws of offshore operators who are not as considerate when it comes to the well-being of their player base.


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