Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Health
525. To ask the Minister for Health the funding streams available to support the work of a project (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the extraordinary work it does; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44230/20]
526. To ask the Minister for Health the funding provided in budget 2021 to support those addressing gambling addiction, education programmes surrounding the dangers of gambling and the importance of accessing support for harmful gambling. [44233/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 525 and 526 together.
The Department of Justice and Equality has responsibility for gambling regulation. In March 2019, the Government published the Inter-Departmental Working Group Report on Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling. This report refers to the introduction of a modern licensing approach to all gambling activities, including enhanced protection of consumers and vulnerable individuals.
The report addresses the social impact of gambling, including the issue of problem gambling. It notes the social and health impacts of problem gambling and acknowledges that problem gambling can lead to social breakdown, with devastating financial losses and alienation of family and friends. Problem gambling can be associated with a range of harms including higher risk of psychiatric disorders, alcohol and drug misuse, physical and mental health issues, separation and divorce, unemployment and insolvency
The Inter-Departmental Working Group recommended that:
- funding be made available for research, training, and community interventions into treatment of gambling addiction.
- funding of public education and awareness raising programmes and the production of relevant information materials be supported.
- assistance be given in the provision of additional services to treat gambling addiction.
In order to meet these objectives, the Group recommended that a Social Fund, managed by the gambling regulatory authority should be established.
The Health Service Executive has responsibility for the provision of addiction treatment services.
The HSE also provides funding to a number of voluntary sector providers who treat gambling addiction, along with drug and alcohol addictions.
I support the recommendations of the working group report to address the social impact of gambling and to establish a social fund to support treatment services for gambling addiction.