Number of people receiving treatment for problem gambling reaches record levels
Sinn Féin Limerick Senator Paul Gavan has called on the government to wake up to the prevalence of problem gambling in the State, as Health Service Executive (HSE) figures reveal the number of people seeking help for problem gambling has reached record levels.
Speaking today, Senator Gavan 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 upon the release of figures by the HSE which shows number of people seeking help for problem gambling has reached record levels.
“The figures I received in response to a Parliamentary Question from the HSE show that 257 people reported for treatment for problem gambling last year – the highest number since records began in 2010.
“Indeed, the HSE has admitted these figures don’t even come close to painting a picture of the extent of problem gambling in this State as reporting of treatment is optional.
“The fact of the matter is that we are not drifting towards a gambling crisis, we are in the middle of one. 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.
“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 issue is too serious for the government to abdicate responsibility and leave it to others.
“We have to be totally proactive here as regards regulation and health service provision – while problem gambling is not necessarily a new problem, it is more complex and far more widespread than ever before, and we need to ensure the health service, society, and politicians are responding proactively and accordingly.”