The Irish government is reportedly giving up the idea of establishing a gambling study committee composed of members from all the various political parties. The problem is that two party leaders in particular are refusing to take part if the committee insists on looking at fixed-odds betting terminals-FOBTs-in its course of action.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore both wrote to Minister of Justice Dermot Ahern in December, saying they would join the committee only if FOBTs were excluded from the range of subjects to be covered.
The committee was intended to examine the nation’s antiquated gaming laws and decide on changes needed to bring the sector into line with modern technological and social realities.
A detailed government report, released in 2008, was to be the basis for further work by the committee. That report in fact suggested that FOBTs should not be allowed in betting shops. The gaming machines feature sports simulations with predetermined outcomes-for example, substituting a horse race for the symbols of a video slot machine. FOBTs are considered by some to be highly addictive.
For his part, Ahern also has concerns about FOBTs, the Irish Times reports. However, he does not feel that simply refusing to acknowledge their existence is the right approach.
“We must face up to the challenges and threats, as well as the opportunities, inherent in new technologies and evolving social habits, and not bury our heads in the sand and hope they go away,” Ahern reportedly told one opposition member.