Yesterday, we sent our joint pre-budget submission to Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe. Together with the Rutland Centre, we have been campaigning to have a portion of the Betting Duty allocated to the treatment and prevention of problem gambling in Ireland.
If you are interested in supporting this campaign, please contact your local TD. A list of email addresses for all TDs is available here.
Below is the opening section of our submission. The full document can be downloaded here (PDF).
Dear Minister Donohoe,
We are writing to ask that you allocate urgently-needed funding to problem gambling services in Budget 2018.
Currently there is no dedicated funding for problem gambling treatment, prevention or research in Ireland. This is despite the fact that we have the highest per capita gambling losses in Europe (the third highest globally). The HSE does not have problem gambling or gambling addiction as part of their Service Plan for 2017 and we have been advised by them that it is unlikely that they will allocate funding to this area, as they are aware that a dedicated Social Fund is due to be created upon the enactment of the Gambling Control Bill. Unfortunately, it may take several years before the Social Fund is active and this is time that the thousands of families affected by gambling-related harm do not have.
We propose that Betting Duty be increased by a minimum of 0.1%, with those additional funds (roughly €5 million) allocated to problem gambling services. We propose that this be an interim measure until the Social Fund is active. At an Oireachtas Agriculture Committee meeting earlier this year, Mr Brian Kavanagh, CEO of Horse Racing Ireland (the main recipient of Betting Duty funding), stated that funding addiction services from Betting Duty would be “eminently sensible” (i). Our proposal has also gained public support from Paddy Power co-founder, Stewart Kenny (ii).
Currently Ireland has the lowest Betting Duty in Europe. The equivalent turnover rate in the UK is 1.5%. We feel that this leaves plenty of scope for an increase, without adversely affecting either the Horse Racing and Greyhound industries or the gambling industry.
According to an estimate from the Institute of Public Health in Ireland, there are somewhere between 28,000 and 40,000 problem gamblers in Ireland. International research has shown that, for every problem gambler, an additional 8-10 people’s lives are negatively affected. Even at the lower end of the scale, this would mean that there are in the region of 250,000 people in Ireland who are experiencing gambling-related harm.
In July of this year, Taoiseach Varadkar stated that gambling can give rise to “people becoming addicted, impoverished and unwell as a consequence” (iii). We strongly believe that it is time for the State to recognise problem gambling as a serious public health issue in Ireland.
We urge you to use any increase in Betting Duty in Budget 2018 as an opportunity to help people whose lives have been devastated by gambling addiction, as well as helping to prevent young people and other at-risk groups from developing gambling problems.
Maebh Leahy Barry Grant
Rutland Centre Problem Gambling Ireland
Pre-Budget Submission Summary
Barry Grant, Addiction Counsellor, Founder.