Sir, – The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland welcomes legislative proposals to put an outright ban on advertising gambling in sports ("Labor Aims to Ban Gambling Companies," News, Feb.17).
Gambling disorder is a real and rapidly growing public health problem, with the medical disease having adverse consequences for people with severe addiction and for their families. In line with our position paper on gambling disorder launched in late 2020, the college believes that any step in addressing any of the many actions needed to resolve this issue is not only positive, but timely and urgent.
The college previously highlighted the need for immediate action to address the hidden gambling addiction epidemic in Ireland through a series of measures. In addition to rigorous advertising controls, these measures include funding dedicated treatment pathways within mental health services, a regulatory agency, and other responsible gambling measures integrated into the industry.
Recent anecdotal information from counseling addiction psychiatrists points to a certain and worrying increase in gambling disorder referrals since Covid-19 restrictions were put in place. Businesses are now taking advantage of the effects of bogus, which includes isolation, boredom, and more opportunities to gamble while working from home through large, targeted online advertising campaigns.
There is particular cause for concern about the insidious way in which these advertisements are targeted at young people who, because of their developing brains, are more prone to addiction and its associated mental health effects.
Gambling disorder is a behavioral addiction that can cause serious consequences and suffering for individuals and their loved ones. By sharing certain traits with substance addiction, such as Such as difficulty regulating moods, loss of relationships, or employment and financial problems, gambling addiction is often treated in secret but is easier to disguise without obvious physical symptoms. The mental health effects are severe for some, with high suicide rates among those with gambling addiction.
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been hard felt by those struggling with problem gambling. Key drivers of addiction development and relapse are loneliness, isolation, and boredom – all unfortunate side effects of the necessary social distancing restrictions put in place since last March to stop the virus from spreading.
Even without live sports, people are finding it difficult to avoid triggers as online gambling ads become more visible and new betting platforms are introduced. We need to support people with tighter controls and responsible gambling practices that are built into the industry.
The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland supports all gambling advertising reform and legislative efforts to protect the health of our populations and especially our vulnerable young people who are increasingly vulnerable to the harmful effects of very visible gambling advertising. – your etc.
Dr. WILLIAM FLANNERY,
College of Psychiatrists
of Ireland, Dublin 2.