The report commissioned by the Gambling Awareness Trust estimates that there are 55,000 problem gamblers in Ireland.
Ireland.- A report for the Gambling Awareness Trust has found support and treatment for problem gambling in the country to be lagging behind other countries in Western Europe.
The report estimates that there are 55,000 problem gamblers in Ireland that lack specialist treatment from Ireland’s Health Service Executive.
It criticised the lack of a “dedicated treatment pathway” for problem gamblers, finding that players with problems were “lumped in” with services for those with drug and/or alcohol addictions.
The report concluded: “HSE service provision is not specialised but part of a general ‘toolkit’ for managing drug and alcohol addiction. Regional discrepancies characterise the public system and make it difficult for gamblers experiencing problems to access services in their areas.
“Private services exist but are expensive. Screening for gambling addiction is virtually non-existent and makes it difficult to interdict those at risk of developing significant problems with harmful gambling.”
It added: “Relative to the scale of accelerated patterns of harmful gambling in Ireland, this system is not fit for purpose.”
The report comes as Ireland still waits to see progress on the creation of a new gambling regulator. Reform of regulation is expected to see the creation of a social fund for gambling addiction funded through the regulator and by the gambling industry.
See also: Ireland implements interim Gambling Act
The Gambling Awareness Trust is funded through contributions by the gambling industry itself and provides financial support to a number of providers that offer phone and in-person counselling services.
Gambling Awareness Trust CEO, Pam Bergin, told The Journal: “We get a bad rap because we’re funded by the industry. The industry has nothing to do with our day-to-day operations. We commissioned this report to try to add the literature there is on the scale of gambling harm in this country.
“Nothing in it really blew us away. But it is fairly stark that there’s such a huge problem in this country that’s not being tackled head-on. We’re so far behind in terms of regulation that something has to be done. But I’m fairly confident now that Minister Browne will bring in a regulator.
“All our peer countries in the EU have some form of supports for this. In the UK recently, a number of NHS gambling clinics have opened up in the likes of London and cities in the north of England.
“Apparently, it’s working really well. It’s free and it’s a specific service in this area. Something like that would be excellent here. In Ireland, it’d be important we get that geographic spread because the problem is everywhere.”