Psychiatrists in Ireland call Gambling a Public Health Crisis
by Glenn Baird - December 18, 2020
The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland has stated that gambling in the country should now be considered a “Public Health Crisis”, calling for an “urgent ban” on all forms of gambling related advertising.
The Faculty of Addictions Psychiatry of the College developed the paper and has cited lockdown as an exasperating factor in the rise of problem gambling in Ireland. The study points to more time working from home encouraging people to turn to online betting as a means to fill time.
The paper picked out five issues to address, which include improving gambling education in schools, new legal structures, tighter controls on advertising, an improvement to the quality and availability of treatment facilities and deeper research into problem gambling.
Professor Colin O’Gara, leader author of the paper and a Consultant Addictions Psychiatrist, likened problem gambling to substance addiction: “We cannot continue to ignore the links between problem gambling and the current high volume of betting ads – be that in traditional TV ads or on team jerseys and side-line banners.
“Much like tobacco, in 10 years I think we will look back on the proliferation of gambling advertising in sport and entertainment and ask ourselves how we let it get so out of control. Currently, gambling advertising in Ireland is much too common and, critically, occurs before the adult television watershed.”
One of the major concerns highlighted in the paper is the impact of gambling advertising on young people and children.
“Even in the absence of live sports, people are finding it difficult to avoid triggers, with increased visibility of online gambling ads and the rollout of new betting platforms,” President of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland Dr William Flannery, added. “We need to support people with tighter controls and responsible gambling measures inbuilt in the industry.”
One such measure could be to ban all advertising on TV and radio prior to the watershed.
The paper read: “All gambling advertising-related activity should be closely monitored by an independent regulator. The independent regulator should be aware of the influence social media advertising can have on children and adolescents” and “the independent regulator should also be aware of the use of micro-transactions and loot boxes in online gaming, described as ‘virtual games of chance’.”
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