Fianna Fáil TD, Jack Chambers has said it is disingenuous of Minister John Halligan to acknowledge in national media that Ireland has the “highest gambling losses in Europe” while at the same time being a member of Government that has utterly failed to support efforts to regulate the industry.

The party’s Gambling Control Bill which is also co-sponsored by Deputy Jim O’Callaghan and Anne Rabbitte TD sets out a clear framework to reach an appropriate level of regulation but remains stalled at committee stage due to Government inaction.

Justice Committee member, Deputy Chambers said, “Despite being made well aware of the dangers associated with gambling the Government has still not acted on the legislation we introduced to effectively regulate the gambling industry.

“Problem gambling is a growing and very serious problem in Ireland. We need to be in a strong position to help those with or recovering from an addiction to avoid situations that trigger their urge to gamble and also to support their families.

“If Minister Halligan was truly as interested in the need for gambling regulation as he claims he is then he would support our calls to accelerate this essential legislation.

“The fact of the matter is that it’s a sheer lack of political will that has stalled our Bill, which has already undergone pre-legislative scrutiny.

“This is an industry that has been let away with a tremendous amount in this country over recent years and that needs to end. It’s not enough to publicise concerns for the many vulnerable people nationwide suffering in problem addiction; that concern must be matched with action.

“We continue to aim to achieve a series of changes to gambling regulation and have recently called on the Justice Committee to help move this bill forward now.

“If the Minister is as interested as he claims through media that he is, he will be eager to encourage his cabinet colleagues to push this Bill through committee stage once the Dáil returns next month,” he concluded.