Problem Gambling Ireland has been asking online gambling companies to impose deposit and risk limits during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, while Irish residents live under lockdown.
Following the cancellation of sporting events around the world, betting companies such as BoyleSports, Paddy Power and others are still offering betting markets and odds. They’ve also added virtual sports events to their betting platform and have been heavily marketing their online casino pages at the same time, in an attempt to maintain business.
Speaking about the situation, the Chief Executive of Problem Gambling Ireland, Barry Grant, said that vulnerable customers were turning to slots games and casino gambling. And he suggested that there could be greater restrictions in Ireland, in line with some of those seen across Europe:
“Several European countries including Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Spain and Portugal, have already implemented restrictions on online gambling and/or advertising of online gambling platforms.”
The online platform for the Irish National Lottery already has a system of compulsory deduction limits but no such measures are in place for other online gambling operators. And Grant said that online betting has the potential to be more addictive than normal betting.
Betting companies in Ireland and the UK have been criticised for many of their marketing practices in recent months, and fears that vulnerable customers might be placed at greater risk during the lockdown has led to the gambling regulator on the other side of the Irish Sea to urge operators to act responsibly. At the same time, the UK equivalent of Problem Gambling Ireland, Gamstop, has seen a surge of contacts from people attempting to cancel existing self exclusion plans.
Last year it was estimated that Irish punters gambled almost €10 billion, making the country the seventh highest gambling jurisdiction in the world.