Boylan calls on Government to immediately conduct Gambling Prevalence Study
Speaking this afternoon, Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has reiterated her calls for more to be done around the huge problem of gambling addiction and lack of regulation by calling on the Government to conduct a gambling prevalence study as a matter of urgency so the number of problem gamblers in the country can be properly calculated and the necessary supports resourced and put in place.
MEP Boylan said:
“In their 2010 paper, ‘Developing a population approach to gambling: health issues’, the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) called a for a prevalence study to be carried out in order to ascertain the number of persons addicted to gambling or with problem gambling habits in Ireland.
“Seven years on and to the great shame of this and the previous Government, no such detailed study has been carried out. Instead, to overcome the fact that there is no gambling prevalence data available for Ireland, we have to use international data from other countries to estimate the number of problem and addicted gamblers in the State.
“That there is no prevalence data for a genuine public health issue such as gambling addiction is an absolute disgrace. We would not allow this to be the case with other health issues, yet the government is happy to stand over this state of affairs.
“In estimating the number of problem gamblers many have to rely on using the figure that one per cent of the population experiences gambling problems, which would represent approximately 40,000 individuals in Ireland. However, it is ludicrous to think that in the age of online gambling, prevalence of smart phones, and the marketing campaigns ran by gambling companies, that only one per cent of the population is addicted. Especially given that a recent report showed Ireland to have the 3rd highest gambling losses per capita in the world.
“I have stated on many occasions before my belief that problem gambling is one of the gravest issues facing Irish society. However, without the data from a prevalence study we are fighting that problem in the dark.
“We are already trying to claw back lost ground on this issue, and we cannot continue to be reactionary, we cannot wait until the problem is tearing society apart at the seams before we act, we need to act now.
“As a matter of urgency, we need a comprehensive gambling prevalence survey carried out by Minister for Health Simon Harris so that the Minister of State for Justice and Equality David Stanton can bring forward the Gambling Control Bill which is due to be published this year promptly and with the relevant data.”