GMA files bill vs compulsive gambling

Posted at 05/24/2011 11:28 AM | Updated as of 05/24/2011 4:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former President and current Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has filed a bill seeking to lessen compulsive gambling in the country.

House Bill 3599, also known as the Comprehensive Problem Gambling Act of 2010, seeks to lessen the social impact of the problem of gambling in the country by providing counseling support and information dissemination on its condition and treatment.

Arroyo's son, Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Diosdado Arroyo, co-authored the bill.

In a press statement, the former President said compulsive gambling is characterized by the loss of control over gambling, restlessness when attempting to stop gambling and continuing the vice despite serious negative consequences. “Compulsive gambling is a growing public health concern,” Arroyo said.

The bill mandates the Department of Health to launch a national awareness campaign on compulsive gambling through public service announcements. It also orders the DOH Secretary to implement a national program of research on compulsive gambling.

The measure also provides for the "evaluation and treatment of persons who have had their lives significantly impacted by compulsive gambling" through counselors in health centers.

Arroyo said compulsive gamblers who cannot kick the habit  are prone to substance abuse, mental health disorders such as smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, depression and even suicidal behavior.

She cited a study of the National Research Council, which shows that 25-50% of spouses of compulsive gamblers have been abused.

Another study done in Nebraska revealed that compulsive gambling is as much a risk for domestic violence as alcohol abuse, Arroyo said.

“Emergency room statistics also showed that the odds ratio of intimate partner violence increased 10.5 times when the partner was a compulsive gambler,” Arroyo explained.