Boylan reiterates her Demand for an Immediate Gambling Prevalence Survey
Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan has reiterated her demand for the Minister for Health to immediately undertake a Gambling Prevalence Survey given that a similar prevalence survey for the North found that an estimated 2.3% of respondents identified as problem gamblers.
MEP Boylan said:
“For some time now, I have been calling for serious engagement from politicians and the media in relation to gambling addiction and the lack of regulation around gambling. I have gone on record on many occasions before stating my belief that problem gambling is one of the gravest issues facing Irish society.
“Unfortunately, as precious time passes and the less that is done by the Government to regulate, the more evidence appears reinforcing that this is a problem of gigantic proportions.
“Previously, I called on the Minister for Health to conduct a gambling prevalence survey 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. Without the data from a prevalence study or survey we are fighting that problem in the dark.
“A prevalence survey released yesterday for the north of Ireland raises serious concerns about the issue of problem gambling in their jurisdiction given that 2.3% of the respondents identified as problem gamblers. To put that in a context, it is a rate nearly five times higher than comparable evidence for problem gambling in England.
“Currently, there is no such evidence for the south of Ireland as there has been no prevalence survey carried out. 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.
“However, in light of the figure for the north of Ireland and given that there is less stringent regulation for gambling in the south, one would have to assume that the figure for problem gambling in the south is higher than the 2.3%.
“Therefore if we were to use such a calculation we could assume that there are close to 100,000 problem gamblers in the south of Ireland. This is at a time when, for instance, Paddy Power Betfair profits doubled for the first quarter of 2017, no doubt further helping Ireland retain its position as having the 3rd highest gambling losses per capita in the world.
“If the deluge of evidence available on gambling addiction and yesterday’s survey results for the north do not spur Minister Harris into immediately launching a comparable focused and in depth survey, then he is marginalising those who are going through a very serious and often devastating addiction.”