Problem Gambling Ireland’s mission is to provide an independent suite of supports, resources and referral pathways for problem gamblers and their families.
With the touch of a button on your mobile phone, you can lose it all – your pay cheque, your rent, your relationships. As technology has enabled people to gamble online with unprecedented ease, gambling addiction has risen dramatically. Its effects can be tragic, with 1 in 5 problem gamblers attempting suicide. It is estimated that there are 40,000 problem gamblers living in Ireland today, with between 5 and 10 additional people affected by their addiction. This means that up to 400,000 people’s lives are affected by problem gambling in Ireland today. However, there is no national strategy to tackle these issues.
Barry is an addiction counsellor who witnessed the devastation that problem gambling can cause, ranging from mental health issues and family breakdown, to crime committed in order to support the addiction. He founded Problem Gambling Ireland to raise awareness of the effects of problem gambling, to roll out preventative education, to advocate for the enactment of the Gambling Control Bill, and to offer support to those affected. Recognising that gambling happens at the workplace, they are working in partnership with EPIC Risk Management to deliver ‘Problem Gambling at Work’, where employers and employees are educated on the risks and how to seek help. They have developed the nation’s first independent resource dedicated to reducing gambling related harm with a platform for assessment and access to treatment services.
In the six months following Problem Gambling Ireland’s launch, the online platform has had over 7,600 unique visitors. They have focused on raising awareness in the media of the harm caused by problem gambling, highlighting the warning signs, serious risks, and how to seek help. Since March 2016, they have rolled out an education and treatment programme, with results to date demonstrating a decrease in harmful gambling behaviour amongst the group. While gambling can be a harmless pastime, for others it can be detrimental. Problem Gambling Ireland want to make the wider community aware of this issue so people can seek help and think twice before pressing that button on their phone.