Online gambling problems in Ireland - Newstalk Breakfast Interview
Professor Colin O'Gara from St John Of Gods Hospital is warning that the coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge in young people seeking support for gambling addiction.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the addiction psychiatrist said online gambling is now a "significant" problem for the young people that present at the hospital.
"It is a significant problem and we are seeing young people – 15 and probably even younger – that are accessing online sites in this country without any problem and losing vast amounts of money," he said.
"These are the cases that have presented with us unfortunately and these people are also subject to a lot of mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety and, in some cases, self-harm.
"We are seeing at the moment in the UK, there is a lot of progress being made in regard to regulation and in Ireland we are waiting for the past ten years in essence."
Professor O'Gara noted that then-Justice Minister Alan Shatter drafted a proposed Control of Gambling Bill in 2013; however, the issue has not been progressed since.
He said there has been "effectively no regulation" in Ireland in the years since and warned that there is now a "very strong and compelling argument" to bring forward the legislation urgently.
"You have young people who can go online and lose vast amounts of money," he said.
"There are no responsible gambling initiatives at all being brought in in Ireland – such as mandatory deposit limits, age verification or a credit card ban like there was in the UK.
"So, there is a lot of stuff there that could be brought in and needs to be brought in and I think the most tangible way of doing that would be to bring in an office for gambling control."