A new report titled "Children and gambling – evidence to inform regulation and responses in Ireland" highlights concerning trends in teenage gambling in Ireland. The report, published by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) and TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI), surveyed 1,949 Irish secondary school students, revealing that 22.9% of 16-year-olds had gambled for money in the past year. Boys were more likely to engage in gambling at 28.2% compared to girls at 17.9%.
Sports betting was the most popular form of gambling among teenagers at 60.7%, followed by lotteries at 51.8%, cards or dice at 41.3%, and slot machines at 36.9%. Disturbingly, 10.3% of those who gambled experienced excessive gambling, and 5.6% met the criteria for problem gambling, which includes lying about gambling expenditures and feeling the need to bet more money.
The report also highlighted that 21.3% of teenagers had difficulty controlling their gambling habits, with 19.0% feeling the need to bet more money, and 8.1% lying to important people about their gambling expenditures. Boys were found to be more at risk of gambling harm, with 80% of those experiencing excessive gambling being male. Excessive gambling was approximately three times more common among boys than girls, and problem gambling was over two and a half times more common among boys.
The report underscores the need for intervention and protection for young people from the harms associated with gambling. Dr. Helen McAvoy, the director of policy at IPH, emphasized the need for a public health approach to reduce gambling harms and called for further research on children and gambling to develop more focused protective measures.
Minister for State with responsibility for law reform and youth justice, James Browne, expressed concern over the report's findings, calling them "deeply troubling." He highlighted the importance of the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022, which aims to protect children from the widespread proliferation of gambling advertising across different media forms.
The report's findings have prompted calls for more comprehensive gambling regulation in Ireland and greater efforts to safeguard young people from the negative consequences of gambling.
By fLEXI tEAM