Singles out online gambling as a contributing cause
Ireland's sports minister, Patrick O'Donovan, has voiced his concern over problem gambling among sports men and women, calling on the FAI, IRFU, and Olympic Council of Ireland to draw up concrete proposals to combat what he referred to as "the scourge" of online gambling.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner newspaper, the minister stressed the importance of protecting athletes and the future integrity of games, observing:
"There is a scourge that is gambling within our inter-county GAA players, especially inter-county but within men and women involved in all sport. I would call it a scourge of online gambling.
"I hear an awful lot of it, in terms of young fellas I see at home, they get wound up inside of it and they can't get out of it. I don't know how much of it is betting on themselves or betting against themselves, but look, we've had a couple of high-profile people who've come out and spoken about their experiences, and they're harrowing. Society is going to have to come to terms with this".
O'Donovan went on to outline his goals: motivate the sports bodies early in the new year to report their strategies for tackling problem gambling and mental health issues, and convening a meeting to discuss the problems.
"I want to sit down with everybody just to see what they're offering, in terms of how they're proposing to deal with this. People in sport need to be able to see the tell-tale signs with their own colleagues," he said.
The Examiner article references a comment made earlier this month by Galway's GAA county chairman and former Fianna Fáil government minister Noel Treacy, who said there is a "serious gambling problem bedevilling our association at player level" and that "players are reporting to us with serious gambling addiction problems".
His view followed similar comments by outgoing GPA chairman Dessie Farrell, who earlier this year revealed the organisation helped 74 GAA players with hidden gambling problems in 2015.
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