Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers has said new legislation is crucial to replace the existing antiquated rules covering gambling, betting and gaming in Ireland.

In the latest publication of the Government’s legislative agenda, the Gambling Control Bill has been removed as a priority and it now appears that the matter has been kicked to touch.

The Deputy raised his concerns regarding the legislation directly with the Tánaiste, Minister Francis Fitzgerald in the Dáil last week.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Chambers said, “Almost four years after it was first published and there has still been no action on this important bill to ensure all operators in the gambling sector have clear legislative guidelines within which to operate.

“When questioned, the Government’s repeated response is that it will engage in public consultation. We need more than that to safeguard our younger generation from developing a dependency on gambling.

“The existing laws in practice are over 50 years old and are in need of amendment to recognise advancements in technology, the popularity of mobile-based gambling and the effect that the rise of the internet has had on habits. A new agency needs to be introduced that would act both as the licensing authority and regulator for the broad sector.

“There are significant dangers posed by the ongoing delays in introducing legislation to deal with the invisible addiction of gambling, which affects thousands nationwide. The latest trends indicate an increase in younger people being lured into this industry and according to the Institute of Public Health in Ireland; adolescent gambling is thought to be 2-3 times the rate of adults.

“There is a huge human cost at stake for many individuals and their families and we must do more to protect them. We cannot continue to leave it to the good work of organisations such as Gamble Aware and Problem Gambling to guard against problem gambling.

“While there is a need for continued research and intensive engagement with all relevant stakeholders, there are aspects of the bill that could be amended immediately under separate legislative measures, including changes to marketing, advertising and age limits. A more comprehensive Bill on gambling must be taken out of limbo and enacted as a priority to effectively address this rising problem,” concluded Deputy Chambers.