Posted on: February 10, 2022, 10:30h.
Last updated on: February 10, 2022, 12:14h.
A new study by Ireland’s Health Research Board (HRB) shows the level of “problem gambling” in the country. The number, considering the size of the population, is relatively low.
All countries regularly review their gambling markets, perhaps thinking that they will, one day, see a massive spike in problem gambling. So far, research still hasn’t produced that result.
Every gambling market has its share of problem gamblers, and there is no way to reduce the percentage to zero. As long as it can be kept to a minimum, responsible gambling efforts are working. Additionally, those who believe the “problem gambling” group can be eradicated are wagering against longer odds than those who actually place a sports bet.
Ireland Gambling is Safe
Ireland’s HRB has completed its latest study, Gambling in the Republic of Ireland. In it, the results are not anything out of the ordinary. The board determined that there were 12,000 Irish that fall into the “problem gambling” group. To date, there is no standardized, global definition for problem gambling.
To some, 12,000 may seem like a significant number. However, looking at it closely, it’s actually small. Worldometer states that there are just over five million people in Ireland. 12,000 represents just 0.24% of the population.
Many countries, including the UK, the US and Australia, have a segment that falls into the “problem gambling” group that hovers around 3-4%. In other words, Ireland’s gambling problem is no problem at all.
In addition to the problem gambling segment, the HRB study identified 35,000 individuals who fall into a “moderate risk” category. Another 90,000 are low-risk gamblers.
Lotteries and scratch-offs are the most popular options in Ireland. In contrast, only one in 10 people visited a bookmaker to place a bet.
The study identified a correlation between gambling and substance use, which includes cigarettes. 13% of the participants who have an “alcohol use disorder” are “at-risk” gamblers. Given that 84% of the Irish drink alcohol (that’s according to The Lancet medical journal), logic dictates that there will be a link between drinking and gambling.
Even HRB Research Officer Dr. Deirdre Mongan pointed out that most of Ireland’s gamblers “do it safely.”
Some Still Want More Gambling Controls
Ireland is going through a reform phase, set to introduce new gambling laws. Similar efforts are seen in the UK, Spain, Italy and a number of other countries.
There is always a persistent theme in all of the cases. A study comes out, shows a number without breaking it down, and then a push comes for greater controls. This is happening in Ireland, as well.
An Irish senator, Mark Wall, falls into that category. He asserts that the HRB report shows the need for a crackdown on the gaming industry. For starters, according to the Leinster Leader, he would like to see a complete ban on gambling ads.
Wall asserts that the government isn’t doing enough, and that the research shows that gambling addiction is “rife throughout society.” Wall’s comments and gambling ad ban call come as part of a push for a Labour Party bill that addresses problem gambling.
[It’s] clear that we need to act fast and put controls in place now to protect those who are vulnerable to behaviour addiction,” said Irish Senator Mark Wall.
Responsible gambling is a subject that has to be addressed – just like responsible drinking, responsible driving, and responsible parenting. However, based on the data provided by the HRB and a reported 20% drop in Irish gambling, perhaps some of the energy can be directed elsewhere.