Cameron Murphy02.05.2016

An addiction expert is calling on the government to address the issues of problem gambling, stating that gambling has become Ireland’s “silent addiction” and that it is on the rise while being kept “behind closed doors”.

Dr Colin O’Gara, the head of addiction services at St John of God Hospital in Dublin has warned the government that it needs to take note of the rise in gambling and its repercussions. He has called for a commission of the gambling industry that is not funded by the industry itself.

O’Gara stated that “at the moment the industry is on self-regulation,” but that this is not adequate and that passing the 2013 Gambling Control Bill “would be an obvious starting point” in addressing the issues that surround problem gambling in Ireland.

According to O’Gara, simply by comparing the number of services available for drug addiction to the number of services available for problem gambling, one can see that not enough consideration is being paid to the issue of problem gambling. The number of affordable services for problem gambling in Ireland is also an issue that needs addressing.

“One in ten people presenting with a serious gambling problem get help; 90 percent of the people suffering are not getting any treatment,” he explained. “Someone with a gambling addiction could be sitting beside you in work and you will never know.”

Irish betting giant, Paddy Power, which was sanctioned by the UK Gaming Commission for “serious failings” after it discovered that the company failed to deal appropriately with a problem gambler, said that the company had learnt a lesson from the incident.

David Power, son of the founder of the company, called for an Irish gambling regulator “with teeth” insisting that the incident in the UK stressed the requirement for regulation in Ireland.