Stopping gambling addiction not my issue, says minister for regulating betting industry
The minister responsible for regulating the betting industry has claimed he is powerless to address gambling addiction, saying it is a health issue.
He also said he was not in a position to say whether the use of gambling machines was illegal because "I am not a judge".
Speaking at the Oireachtas Justice Committee yesterday, Junior Justice Minister David Stanton said he could work to restrict gambling advertising and prevent it being glamorised, but he said addressing addiction was not his remit.
"Even in jurisdictions where they have very strong regulation, they still have problem gambling and addiction," Mr Stanton told the committee.
"If someone has a gambling addiction, it is primarily a health matter and that person needs treatment."
The Government proposes setting up a regulator's office to deal with addiction, advertising and online gambling.
"We can make it fair and we can look at things like glamorising [gambling] and advertising. But if someone has a health issue, it is a matter for the Department of Health," he said.
Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers was critical of the stance.
"That is like the Minister for Justice telling us that he has no responsibility for the healthcare of prisoners in the prison system. That is just a nonsense argument," Mr Chambers said.
Mr Stanton was also criticised over a lack of action surrounding controversial gaming machines. Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace asked why gardaí were not doing more to seize "prohibited gaming machines".
Mr Stanton said: "I cannot say here that something is illegal, I am not a judge."