Independent local election candidate Cathal McGlynn has urged the public to make their opposition known through the current public consultation process.
Plans are already in place from the government for the multibillion-euro betting, gaming, and gambling industries in Ireland, principally the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, and the Betting Act of 1931, to be updated.
The Minister of State for the gambling industry, David Stanton, admitted in December he was “frustrated” at the protracted delay in publishing the legislation, which is now running almost five years behind schedule.
However, Mr Stanton has defended the delay on the basis that there have been enormous changes in the industry – especially with the rise of online betting, much of it being offered by companies located offshore.
He said the stand-alone regulator’s office, when established, would deal with gambling addiction, advertising, sponsorship, underage gambling, promotions, and the myriad of online offerings including “games”, “virtual betting” and continuous betting.
McGlynn now insists that gaming machines must not enter Letterkenny in order to stop the ‘scourge on communities’.
“Gambling machines are so addictive they have been described as the crack cocaine of gambling,” McGlynn said.
“They are a scourge on communities and wreck lives through preying on those with addiction issues.
“Modern gaming machines are designed to be psychologically addictive to get users ‘hooked’ with an increased speed of play to maximise revenue. They are not a casual leisure pursuit.”
The Letterkenny Municipal District Councillors will vote on this issue at their meeting on March 12.
“I find it unbelievable that Councillors are even considering this move.
“What possible benefit can there be to the community in Letterkenny? The only people who will benefit will be a few casino owners who stand to profit from human misery.
“I am calling on everyone who is appalled at the prospect of this scourge being brought to our town to write or email Donegal County Council before the March 1 deadline to make their views known, particularly parents, and those with family or friends who may be vulnerable to this cruel form of addiction.”