Gambling Addiction in Ireland a Major Public Health Concern
Dr Colin O’Gara, Consultant Psychiatrist and specialist in addiction treatment, spoke with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE Radio 1 this week, in order to shine a spotlight on the urgent need for legislation, as well public education, around gambling addiction.
Dr O’Gara was keen to highlight on RTE Radio Today with Miriam that severe gambling addiction is a “major public health concern” and as such, there is an urgent need to progress the Gambling Control Bill.
Dr O’Gara has recently published “Gambling Addiction in Ireland”, a resource for those dealing with problems around gambling and for their loved ones who may be concerned.
A key cause for concern, noted Dr O’Gara, is the rapid development of technology and with it the increasing popularity of online gambling and betting apps, all of which are easily accessible through smart phones. This is concerning when we think of impressionable adolescents, particularly young men, Dr O’Gara explained. He gave an example of attendance at a sporting event with many not watching what’s happening but rather are focused on the changing odds throughout the game, whilst being bombarded with banner ads and sponsorship campaigns for betting companies.
He suggested legislation needs to be accompanied by funding for services and a campaign to reducing stigma around this often unspoken problem in Irish society.
The College Faculty of Addictions Psychiatry plans to produce a position paper on Gambling Addiction in the coming months.