Mick Antoniw, Member of Senedd for Pontypridd and Chair of the Senedd’s Cross Party Group on Problem Gambling has called for a ‘Welsh Response’ to the lack of dedicated gambling addiction support facilities in Wales.

The call follows a letter published in The Lancet from leading Welsh academics pointing to and increase prevalence of gambling addiction in Wales and referrals to specialist clinics in England.

Mick Antoniw said:

“Gambling addiction is a growing public health problem that risks becoming a pandemic if it is not already.

“The impact of Covid-19, with people spending more time at home, has super-charged the problem, with online gambling increasing by more than forty percent and almost a quarter of the Welsh population saying they have spent more time gambling during lockdown.

“As the chair of the Senedd’s Cross party Group on Problem Gambling, I’ve written to the First Minister in support of the call from leading Welsh academics for specialist treatment facilities in Wales.  There’s only one outcome of the increase in gambling and that’s an increase in gambling addiction and the social and economic problems that follow; and many more lives destroyed as a result.

“There is a growing consensus in Wales that gambling, particularly in respect of young people and women is getting out of control and recently, Wales’ Chief Medical Officer highlighting the public health risks associated with online gambling and the growth of gambling addiction.

“Wales was the first country in the UK to recognise gambling addiction as a public health hazard. In the current environment, with more and more people exposed the ruthless stream of online gambling adverts we need an urgent Welsh response, including establishing dedicated gambling clinics here in Wales.”

You can read Mick’s letter to the First Minister here.