ESRI Report on Problem Gambling

The latest ESRI Report on problem gambling is a welcome addition to the research covering this public health issue in Ireland. We know robust data is imperative when planning the delivery of evidence-based treatments and supports nationally. The staggering number of 130,000 people experiencing problem gambling clearly creates an urgency and requires a cohesive response from government to deal with the crisis through the provision of sustainable, dedicated treatment and support services and a broad, far-reaching public health awareness campaign. Given the ripple effect of the impact of an individuals harmful gambling on affected others such as family members, we can only conclude that there are a huge number of people across the country in need of specialised, dedicated  support.

Ideally, these services should be funded by government under a National Gambling Strategy in line with the National Drugs and Alcohol Strategy, but until recently the HSE have not provided supports specifically for gambling addiction or gambling harm. We fully support the proposals for a mandatory levy as proposed in the Gambling Control Bill, as the best model for funding both treatment and education when responding to the escalating need in Irish society. 

The Gambling Awareness Trust charity is currently funded by donations from the online and retail betting and gaming industry in Ireland, following the ‘polluter pays’ principle, whereby profitable global corporations fund the impact of their industry on public health. The ‘polluter pays’ model of funding is less than ideal for responding to a public health issue, however it is the only funding source available to meet the needs of those currently seeking support. The Gambling Awareness Trust operates completely independently of industry donors, who have no influence or involvement in our work, or the work of the service providers we fund. We welcome the expansion of this principle with a proposed levy on the entire gambling industry, as outlined in the Gambling Control Bill. This levy will provide significant additional funds to support the treatment and resources needed in Ireland to address a growing need going forward. 

In the meantime we will continue to work as hard as we can to ensure anyone experiencing difficulties can access a service no matter where they are in the country be that online, by phone, in-person or a residential treatment programme.

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