The Gambling Awareness Trust has been established to tackle problem gambling-related issues in Ireland, with the independent charity to have access to over €1m (£854,400/$1.1m) in funding each year.
The charity will focus on financially supporting services that provide counselling, education, research and awareness in relation to gambling addiction in the country.
Funds will come from a number of sources, including the gambling industry. The first round of funding is due to be made available to the Trust before the end of the year.
An independent board of directors, drawn from across civic society, will oversee the charity and manage how funds are spent.
Tom Hayes, former Minister of State for Agriculture Ireland, will chair the board, with support from Kathleen Lynch, former Labour-Party Minister; John Forde, a retired Garda Superintendent and private secretary to the Garda Commissioner; Willie Collins, founder and former director of Aiseiri addiction services; and Gillian Hussey, a retired District Court judge.
The Trust will also invite proposals from service providers to its support efforts in terms of research, counselling and education.
“The aim of the trust is to fund important services dealing with gambling addiction and to promote awareness and education about responsible gambling,” chair Hayes said.
The foundation of the new charity comes after a 2013 government bill set out plans to establish a social fund that would be financially resourced by licence-holders to promote socially responsible gambling and counter-act the ill-effects of irresponsible gambling.
However, Hayes has said while the government’s Gambling Control Bill is yet to be enacted, the foundation of the new charity is a “recognition that action in this area is needed now and should not wait for the political system”.
“The charity is an independent body and expects financial contributions from across the gambling industry,” he said.
Hayes has also outlined plans of one of the first major projects for the charity in that it will commission the first-ever national research on gambling and problem gambling in Ireland
“It is hoped that this report will give considerable insight into the areas where the board should focus its attention,” Hayes said.
Image: John Hoey