Institute of Public Health in Ireland has suggested that a new report highlights the necessity for additional gambling regulation with a view of further protecting children, and vulnerable members of the society.
The report titled ‘Children and Gambling – Evidence to Inform Regulation and Responses in Ireland‘also highlighted the need to collect more data about children and gambling, as well as to monitor via national health surveys.
The IPH and TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland published a joint report analysing responses from 1,949 Irish 16 year olds as part of a wider Europe-wide study.
The study found that 22,9% of respondents had gambled for money within the past 12 months. This rate was higher in boys (28,2%) than girls (17,9%).
The most popular activity was sports betting, with 60.7% of respondents participating. This was followed by lotteries (51.8%), cards or dice (41.3%) and slot machines (36.7%).
10,3 percent of respondents who gambled with money in the past year said they were excessively gambling. Meanwhile, 5.6 percent met the criteria for a gambling problem.
The report stated that children were considered to have problem gambling when they felt they had to lie to people who mattered about the amount of money they bet and if it was necessary to wager more money.
Around 21.3 percent of 16-year olds said they were having trouble controlling their gambling. 19 percent felt they needed to bet more, and 8.1 percent admitted that they had lied when it came to how much money they wagered.
In the report, it was also revealed that boys had different gambling behaviors than girls. They were also more likely to engage in excessive gambling. Eighty percent of men who have excessive or problematic gambling are male.
Boys were three times as likely to have excessive gambling in the past year than girls. Problem gambling was also two-and-a-half times more prevalent.
Dr Helen McAvoy IPH Director for Policy reflected on the findings and suggested that a public-health approach is needed to reduce the harms of gambling, as the rates in Ireland are around the European average.
Ciara Reynold, IPH Public Health Development Officer noted that these findings would help inform the ongoing reform of gambling in Ireland.
She said, “The report highlights that further research is needed on gambling and children in national surveys so we can build on the evidence and develop more focused approaches to protect our children from gambling-related harm.”
James Browne, Minister of State for Law Reform and Youth Justice with responsibility for Law Reform and Youth Justice called the report “deeply troubling” and one that highlighted that society “must prevent children and vulnerable citizens against the harms associated to gambling”.
He highlighted the ongoing legislative work that will ensure such ambitions are achieved and even exceeded. New powers will be given to the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland.
The group will be able to tackle the issue of gambling advertisements on social media and online as well as traditional media like television, radio and billboards.
He explained that “Reforming the gambling legislation and regulations in Ireland has always been a priority of mine as Minister.”
The Gambling Regulation Bill, at its core is a measure of public health. The Bill focuses on protecting children from gambling advertisements that are widely spread across media.
“That’s why the Bill includes a watershed that prohibits the broadcasting of gambling advertisements on television, radio or audio-visual services between 5:30am and 9pm.
The Bill introduces advertising restrictions for gambling activities, aimed at protecting children and other vulnerable individuals from the harmful effects of problem gambling.
The legislation also includes provisions for the creation and operation of a National Gambling Exclusion Register, as well as a number additional measures designed to protect those who gamble.
It also establishes the Social Impact Fund which will be used for research and initiatives related to problem gambling, as well as to support educational and awareness-raising measures, and to support treatment activities.
I expect the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 to complete its journey through Oireachtas in early next year, provided both houses cooperate.