Stormont inquiry launched amid high levels of problem gambling

Belfast Live
 
Stormont inquiry launched amid high levels of problem gambling
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An all-party Stormont Assembly group has launched an inquiry into approaches to gambling-related harms in Northern Ireland.

The All Party Group (APG) on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling has highlighted research which suggests the current approach of focusing on the behaviours of individuals fails to recognise the wider impact on public health.

Research from the International Gambling Studies also suggests that the typical problem gambler can affect around six other people. Some 2.3% of the population in Northern Ireland have a gambling problem, according to a Department for Communities survey.

This is four times higher than that recorded in Great Britain, and three times higher than the Republic of Ireland. The APG is calling on health professionals, advocacy group representatives, academics, departmental officials and those with personal experience to participate in the inquiry.

Responses to a recent Department for Communities consultation on regulation of gambling revealed concerns over a lack of a public health strategy for gambling-related harms in Northern Ireland.

Chair of the APG Robbie Butler said a public health approach to gambling-related harm would move the focus from the individual problem gambler to a much broader consideration of the causes of gambling-related harm that can then be located within a wider framework of public health policies.

“This approach has been used for other addictions, including food addiction, smoking and alcoholism,” he said.

“One of the key recommendations to emerge from the APG’s first inquiry on the future regulation of gambling was that gambling should be officially recognised as a public health issue.

“We are recommending that gambling be reflected in regulation that prioritises health, prevention of harm, and treatment. Gambling addiction should be fully integrated into all relevant strategies including mental health and suicide prevention.

“We call on health professionals, advocacy group representatives, academics, departmental officials and those with personal experience, among others, to take part in this inquiry.”

The APG was established in March 2020 to address issues associated with gambling harm in our community. A call for written evidence for the public health inquiry into gambling-related harms is open until February 3 2023.

All responses should be submitted to the APG by email at [email protected]