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John Kierans: When it comes to clamping down on online gambling all bets are off

Irish Mirror logoIrish Mirror 08/06/2021 John Kierans

It’s time we had a serious conversation in this country about betting and specifically online gambling.

All my life I have enjoyed a flutter from betting on the Aintree Grand National to Cheltenham and the Galway Races.

I only gamble on National Hunt racing and I could go for months without backing a horse. All my bets are in cash, would be small money and I don’t have a betting account.

I would have first gone into the bookies when I was about eight-years-old doing a bet for my late father Johnny.

He loved a punt and especially on his own horses at Christmas. Over the years our family would have pulled off some serious betting coups which half the punters in my home town Drogheda were in on.

When the Kierans ran a horse at Limerick over the festive season everyone knew to back it.

At my brother Padraig’s stag in Galway years ago we won thousands on Daring Destiny in the Ayr Gold Cup at 33-1, after I got a tip via New York no less.

We even told the local bookie in the West to lay off the money so he wouldn’t be stung. The horse literally won on the nod on the line.

For me, my family and my pals betting was always a bit of fun. We didn’t go into debt, we didn’t gamble money we didn’t have, and we all lost what we could afford.

We were taking our hard-earned cash out of our pockets and putting it on. Nowadays it is a different story. Young people are gambling from their newly opened betting accounts on their mobile phone and it is far too easy.

Many are out of control and running up huge debts.

It is like walking around with a casino in your pocket. You never see the money, you just see numbers.

I always say there are two weeks of drinking in a €1,000 but you can lose a grand on the phone in five minutes.

Online gambling is like the Wild West where there are literally no controls.

In Ireland €10,000 a minute is gambled online.

I know with some bookies you can’t use a credit card to put money into your betting account any more which is a positive move. However the problem is it doesn’t feel as if you are playing with real money and that is bad.

At the moment we have 29,000 gambling addicts in the country but the number is rising fast. How many beg, borrow or steal to feed their addiction?

We need a proper all-party Dail investigation into the issue.

a hand holding a cellphone © www.alamy.com

My view is that betting on your mobile phone should be banned.

I have no problem with a bet on the track or in the bookies shop but the phone is just lethal.

I believe the mental stress online gambling is causing to young people is horrendous.

The bookies are a very powerful lobby group but this is one bet they should not win.

How many have lost their homes, jobs and families ?

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