A real pandemic: Problem gambling is now more widespread than previously thought in Ireland, says ERSI – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

A real pandemic: Problem gambling is now more widespread than previously thought in Ireland, says ERSI

New ESRI data shows Ireland’s gambling problem is much worse than previously thought, reports RTE.

A new study estimates that 1 in 30 adults in Ireland suffer from a gambling problem, a tenfold increase from previous research in 2019.

Previous estimates of gambling prevalence were based on face-to-face interviews, but this ESRI study was conducted anonymously online among a representative sample of 2,850 adults.

The ESRI said the new figures would mean 130,000 adults in Ireland have a gambling problem, suggesting the problem is more widespread than previously thought.

The Fianna Fáil TD told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland: “One of the things that people who don’t have the addiction or problem don’t understand, is it is not about winning money, but a sense of winning is far more important, that release of dopamine. That is an essential element of it. Our laws are completely out of date. They’re from the 1930s and 1950s. They’re not fit for purpose or don’t even exist in some areas,” reports RTE.

People under the age of 50 were more likely to have a gambling problem, with the highest rates estimated to be in their 30s.

Pete Lunn, a research fellow at ESRI, said problem gambling occurs “across multiple types of gambling”.

He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland: “It (gambling) is not all online either, more than a third of the spending of problem gamblers is in-person. It is spread across multiple types of gambling, you would find betting on sports, on bingo,” reports RTE.

“There is a particular draw I would say for slot machines and casinos for problem gamblers, but that is a fairly small effect. What we are saying is that it’s widespread and widespread across all forms of gambling that we measured,” he added, reports RTE.

During an interview on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Professor Colin O’Gara, who is a Consultant Psychiatrist and the head of addiction services at St John of God Hospital, expressed his lack of surprise at the much higher rates of problem gambling that have been revealed in recent years.

“The reality is now that we know it is much higher than that,” he said, reports RTE.

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