The head of addiction services at St John of God hospital has expressed concern at plans to broadcast early morning greyhound racing from two Irish tracks.
Professor Colin O’Gara told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke show that he is concerned that the move will open up gambling to a new audience.
Early morning Irish greyhound racing is to be broadcast into thousands of betting shops across Ireland and the UK from two new fixtures getting underway in the coming weeks.
The morning meetings – the first of their kind in this country – will start at Kilkenny on Wednesday mornings next month and on Thursdays at Kilcohan Park in Waterford city in the new year and will see racing getting underway at 8.18am, despite the fact that, under Irish law, shops cannot open until 10am.
The fixtures will be available in Irish betting offices but also more than 4,000 shops in the UK, through the SIS broadcasting system. They will also be available to online operators as part of SIS’s exclusive streaming portfolio.
SIS already have the rights to broadcast a number of Irish greyhound racing fixtures, including those at Limerick, Cork, Tralee, Mullingar and Youghal.
Prof O’Gara said he is concerned at the impact an extension of greyhound racing will have on problem gamblers.
The early morning meets represent “more proliferation” of gambling opportunities, he said.
Prof O’Gara also highlighted the lack of a regulatory framework for the industry. “We have been in a very dangerous situation for many years, we’ve been asking for regulation and it hasn’t come in yet.”