The Argument for Independent Gambling Addiction Supports In Ireland

An excellent article in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper (06.01.16) claims that the Chair of the UK’s Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) – a charity funded by the gambling industry – lobbied on behalf of that industry.  

Unlike Ireland, the UK has numerous other organisations which are completely independent of any potential influence or conflict of interest from the industry.

Neil Goulden, the Chair of RGT since 2011, also chairs the gambling industry lobbying arm, the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), since 2012.  He had previously been on the board at Ladbrokes and was chairman of bookmaker and bingo group Gala Coral until 2014.

The Guardian claims that a 2013 gambling industry strategy paper, written by Goulden and Ladbroke’s CEO, Richard Flynn,  identified “a large degree of righteous paternalism” which would see the public mood “swinging away from smoking, heavy drinking, gambling, non-contributors and tax avoiders”.  The paper went on to call for research “which helps to position gambling as an economically valuable and socially responsible leisure pursuit” (like heavy drinking, smoking and tax avoidance, presumably).  It is worth noting that the Irish Department of Justice wrote in their 2010 document, ‘Options for Regulating Gambling‘ – “It can be acknowledged from the start, that for some, the pairing of the words “responsible” and “gambling” is incongruous”.

It could be argued that giving the gambling industry responsibility for encouraging responsible gambling (i.e., reducing the industry’s profits) is more than a tad incongruous too.  This is exactly what we have done in Ireland with the forming of the Irish Responsible Gambling Board’s ‘Gamble Aware’.  While the Gamble Aware website provides some excellent information and support services, the silence from the organisation in terms of raising awareness around gambling addiction (compulsive gambling/problem gambling/pathological  gambling) – and the industry’s part in perpetuating those issues – is truly deafening.  Take Gamble Aware’s Twitter account, for example – set up in November 2011 and (4 tweets later) nothing since February 2012.

Gambling Addiction Ireland

Just like the alcohol industry in Ireland, the gambling industry encourages you to ‘enjoy gambling responsibly’ and directs you to the Gamble Aware website (the alcohol equivalent being Drink Aware).  Alcohol addiction has an independent organisation with ‘teeth’ – Alcohol Action Ireland – ready to take on the vested interests, lobby government and actively raise awareness.  To date, there has been no such organisation dedicated to gambling addiction in Ireland.

My inspiration to set up Problem Gambling Ireland originally came from reading University College Dublin’s research into gambling behaviours (specifically problem gambling) in Ireland , entitled ‘Playing Social Roulette‘ (June 2015).  In my work as an addiction counsellor in private practice, I was aware of the damage caused to individuals and their loved ones by gambling addiction.  However, the report showed the shocking scale of the issue and the dearth of dedicated, independent services.  Subsequent to reading the report, I was fortunate to be involved with the U-Casadh Project winning an Impact Award at the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards (2015).  Attending the award ceremony in October, I was surrounded by social entrepreneurs who had followed their passion for positive social change.  This was the final push I needed to make the move from having the idea to taking on the challenge.  Currently I am operating the website,, on a voluntary basis.  It is a free information resource for anyone who has been negatively affected by gambling.  I am in the process of bringing together a Board of Directors (with no links to the gambling industry) in order to set up as a not-for-profit organisation.  I intend, with the help of the Board, future volunteers and (possibly) staff, to further develop the organisation to  lobby and advocate for improvements to treatment and changes in legislation, raise awareness of problem gambling, develop educational programs, develop treatment programs (and have them evaluated), undertake research, as well as monitoring gambling marketing and advertising.

On a final note, a Goldsmiths University (UK) report in 2014 warned that “the idea of ‘problem gambling’ is politically useful … It focuses attention on individual gamblers, rather than relationships between the industry, the state, products and policies.”  These are the relationships that Problem Gambling Ireland, an independent organisation (with teeth) intends to examine.

Barry Grant
Founder, Problem Gambling Ireland
B.A. Degree Counselling Skills & Addiction Studies
​Member of the Association of Professional Counsellors & Psychotherapists in Ireland
Email: problemgamblingireland [at]

100 Day Gambling Recovery Challenge

The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (Australia) have launched an online service to help people with problem gambling issues to work towards recovery.  As the name suggests, it is a 100 day program.  The service requires a very simple registration (email required).  Simply click on the link to get started:

The main elements of the program are:

  • Check-in: Here users can track how much time and money they have spent gambling this week.  This section also includes a ‘Rate Your Mood’ element (Great, Good, Okay, Not Great, Pretty Bad, Awful).  Data from the check-ins is charted under My Progress and the Mood Indicator, so users can easily visualise how they are getting on over the course of the program.
  • My Diary: The program developers recommend making a diary entry at lest once a week.  This can be done in either written or video format.  Videos must be no bigger than 10mb.
  • Gambling Quiz: A nine-question, multiple choice quiz to help users better understand their gambling behaviour.
  • My Support: The program developers suggest nominating a person (or several people) close to you to support you through the program.  (This is something I would always encourage in my own counselling practice, when treating problem gambling.)  Simply enter the name(s) and email(s) and they will be able to see when you’ve checked in and if your’re feeling low.  They won’t have access to your private page or your diary entries.
  • Inspiration: This section shows the completed journeys of 4 individuals who chose to make their journey through the program public.  This includes diary records and charts of their moods and money spent on gambling of the course of the program.

The program really looks like an excellent tool for anybody considering working on reducing the harm caused by their problem gambling or, indeed, to work towards abstinence.

For more information on gambling addiction recovery supports available in Ireland, check out:

Gambling Services launching in early 2016

I am very pleased to announce that I will be launching two gambling addiction support/treatment services in early 2016.

The first,, is a free resource for anybody whose life has been negatively affected by gambling. It will be the first resource of its kind to be independent of the gambling industry.

The second,, will be Ireland’s first dedicated gambling addiction treatment resource. It will be a CBT treatment over 9 sessions. The initial assessment session will last 90 minutes, while the remaining sessions will last 1 hour. Clients will be provided with a manual/workbook, which is empirically based. The treatment model is similar to the UK National Health Service’s National Problem Gambling Clinic model.

Barry Grant
B.A. Degree in Counselling Skills & Addiction Studies
SMART Recovery Facilitator

Phone and Video-Chat Counselling Service Now Available

For those of you based outside of the Waterford City area, or who prefer not to travel – or who may be unable to travel – to your counselling sessions, I am now offering the option of telephone or video-chat counselling sessions.  Bookings can be made through my other website:

The phone & VSee video counselling service is open to anybody over 18 years of age, residing in the Republic of Ireland.  (VSee is a video conferencing application, similar to SKYPE, but which has HIPAA compliant security/privacy protocols ). VSee is free to use and can be downloaded here.  A mobile app version of Vsee can also be downloaded from the Apple App Store.

Payments can be made either through a PayPal account or by card.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to make an appointment, you can contact me (Barry Grant) on 0876714259.

Anxiety Management Group Taking Referrals

I, Barry Grant, along with two of my colleagues – Margaret Kiely and Cian Long – am currently looking for people who are interested in joining a therapeutic group aimed at managing anxiety.

As this group is at the pilot stage of development, we are currently only taking referrals from GPs.  This means that potential group members must contact their GP and ask to be referred on.  GPs can contact me (Barry) on 0876714259 or by emailing

Here is a brief outline of the details of the Managing Anxiety Therapeutic Group:

The programme is currently at its pilot stage. All referrals will initially be taken from GPs.

All persons referred will receive a one-hour one-to-one counselling session in order to assess their suitability for group therapy. There will be no cost for this session.

There are 8 sessions running at 90 minutes per session

There will be a nominal charge of €5.00 per session to members of the pilot group. This assists toward the cost of room rental, handouts etc.

We plan to run the group at the Waterford Cheshire Centre, John’s Hill.

The group will have no more than 12 members and will be facilitated by three counsellors at all times.

Each session will focus on the following three areas.

The following is an outline of the weekly sessions

Week 1:  Introductions and brief synopsis of the course. Introducing the ‘Care Plan’ concept.

Week 2:  ‘What is Anxiety?’ – Looking at causes of anxiety (fight or flight/survival instinct).

Week 3:  Benefits of ‘Self-care’ and the importance of regular relaxation exercises in relation to anxiety

Week 4:  What are our emotional needs, in relation to anxiety? This is based on the ‘Human Givens’ approach.

Week 5:  ‘Negative self-talk’ and ‘Negative automatic thoughts’ (NATS) and ‘de-sensitization’ and ‘exposure therapy’ a Cognitive Behaviour perspective.

Week 6:  The potential positive effects of ‘Detached Mindfulness’. Based on the Dr Tony Bates model.

Week 7:  Formulate individual care plan

Week 8:  An opportunity for questions and answers and feedback from members to facilitators