HSE and government must ensure supports for problem gamblers are still accessible - Louise O'Reilly
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly TD has called on the HSE and government to ensure that necessary supports are in place to help problem gamblers at this time, with data from Britain suggesting that problem gambling habits are becoming more intense and riskier.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“COVID19 presents huge challenges to everyone’s way of life. Within the crisis though, there are many ongoing smaller crises, with problem gambling one such issue.
“Emerging data from a Survation poll in Britain has found that casual gambling has fallen during the COVID19 crisis, but betting habits amongst problem gamblers have become more intense and many people have moved towards risky habits such as slot machines and virtual and online casino games.
“In the north of Ireland, over 11% of respondents said they were gambling more than before the onset of the COVID19 crisis.
“On the basis of that information - and knowing the scale of problem gambling in this State - then we have to assume that there is a similar crisis happening in communities in the south.
“Early last week, data was released which showed that more than 230 people sought help with a gambling addiction last year - a 7% increase on the number treated for gambling as a problem in 2018.
“The HSE and the government need to ensure that support services are in place to help people with a problem gambling habit if they seek help.
“I would also urge the Minister for Health and the Minister for Sport to contact all online gambling companies operating in the State to demand they do more to protect customers from harm."