A new research titled ‘Children and gambling – evidence to inform regulation and remedies in Ireland’ provides light on the country’s underage gambling. The Institute of Public Health (IPH) and TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI) polled 1,949 Irish secondary school pupils for the research, which revealed some alarming patterns.
According to the research, 22.9% of 16-year-olds in Ireland gambled for money in the previous year. The survey found a gender gap in gambling, with 28.2% of boys gambling compared to 17.9% of girls.
Sports betting emerged as the most popular type of gambling among the students polled, with 60.7% participating. Lotteries came in second at 51.8%, followed by card or dice games at 41.3% and slot machines at 36.9%.
10.3% of the students who gambled engaged in excessive gambling, and 5.6% satisfied the criteria for problem gambling. The criterion for problem gambling were lying about the amount of money spent on gambling and feeling the desire to gamble more money.
According to the research, 21.3% of students who had gambled had trouble managing their gambling tendencies. Furthermore, 19.0% felt compelled to wager more money, and 8.1% lied to significant persons about their gambling expenditures.
Boys were discovered to be more vulnerable to gambling-related damage than girls. 80% of individuals who engaged in excessive gambling were boys. Excessive gambling was almost three times more common in males than in girls, and problem gambling was nearly two-and-a-half times more prevalent in boys.
The IPH highlighted the need for intervention to protect young individuals from gambling-related harm. Dr. Helen McAvoy, Director of Policy at IPH, stressed the importance of adopting a public health approach to reduce gambling harms, particularly among 16-year-olds in Ireland.
James Browne, Minister for State with responsibility for Law Reform and Youth Justice, expressed concern about the report’s findings. He emphasized the need to address these issues and highlighted the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 as a crucial step toward protecting children and vulnerable citizens from the harms associated with gambling. The bill aims to reform gambling legislation and regulation in Ireland, focusing on safeguarding children from widespread gambling advertising across various media platforms.
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