Sinn Féin spokesperson on Addiction, Recovery and Wellbeing Thomas Gould TD has called on the government to wake up to the prevalence of problem gambling in the state as Safer Gambling Week comes to a close.
Speaking today, Teachta Gould said: “To date, despite many journalists, advocates, and a small number of politicians highlighting the issue of problem gambling, there has been a complete lack of engagement from government on this matter.
“The situation is incredibly frustrating and it is even more worrying considering the HSE has admitted that its own figures regarding treatment for gambling addiction do not even come close to painting a picture of the extent of problem gambling in this state.
“Interestingly, Problem Gambling Ireland, a registered charity dedicated to preventing and minimising gambling-related harm, stated that in the last three years alone, they had 100,000 unique visitors to their website.
“The fact of the matter is that we are not drifting towards a gambling crisis, we are in the middle of one, and the government are afraid to look under the bonnet to see how big that crisis is.
“We know the data about losses – we have the highest online gambling losses in the world per capita and the third highest gambling losses overall per capita.
“That is a fact that should scare politicians, but the reality is that it doesn’t.
“Problem gambling is too serious for our health service to not have a comprehensive understanding of the issue, and the gambling industry cannot continue to be essentially unregulated.
“The Minister recently gave me an assurance the legislation would be published by the end of 2021. This is simply too long to wait. We already have legislation waiting.
“The Gambling Control Bill, which has been gathering dust since 2013, needs to be progressed. We need to see a dedicated gambling prevalence survey so we can understand the scale of the problem, and we also need the rolling out of a problem gambling awareness campaign.
“The issue is too big for the government to abdicate responsibility and leave it to others.”