Extern Problem Gambling Project needs immediate interim funding - Thomas Gould TD
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Addiction, Recovery and Wellbeing Thomas Gould TD has today called on the government to put interim funding in place to support the vital work of Extern Problem Gambling Ireland.
The project will be seeking funding from a social fund to be included in a forthcoming Gambling Control Bill. Recent government assurance is that this Bill is expected to be passed and implemented before the end of the summer.
Speaking today, Teachta Gould said:
“There are no specific pathways for those with gambling addiction in our health service - they are treated the same as anyone who presents with a mental health problem.
“There is no real ambition from this government or from previous governments to progress gambling regulation or support those in active gambling addiction.
“Just last week, the College of Psychiatrists in Ireland published a position paper calling on the government to progress the 2013 Gambling Control Bill. They said that ‘urgent action is needed’.
“The Extern Gambling Project offers specialised support and counselling for those in gambling addiction. The HSE have confirmed to me that anyone presenting with a gambling addiction to them is treated identically to those presenting with a mental health concern. People need specialised support.
“The project receives no government funding. Before Christmas, I contacted five Departments - Justice, Health, Children, Community and Education - and every single one came back with the same story.
"They do not have any funding for gambling addiction treatment. The project also applied for Section 39 Social Inclusion funding from all CHOs. They received similar responses from a number of these CHOs.
“2020 saw nearly a 50% in traffic to problemgambling.ie They had 17,000 new users in a country where there are believed to be 40,000 people with gambling problems.
“We need to put an end to platitudes and promises. We need to see real action and recognition.
"While we wait for the establishment of the long-expected Social Fund, Extern Problem Gambling will begin to wind down in six weeks.
“I have written to a number of ministers and junior ministers seeking this funding. They need to pull the finger out now on gambling.
"This has dragged on for too long, and those in addiction are now at risk of losing one of the only specialised supports they have. That is a disgrace.”