Irish men five times more likely to be ‘at risk gamblers’ as problem gambling remains highest among disadvantaged communities

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Ciara O'Loughlin

Men in Ireland are five times more likely to be an “at risk gambler” than women, as problem gambling remains highest in disadvantaged communities.

This is according to a new study published by the Health Research Board (HRB) which shows that while the number of people gambling is fewer than in 2014, it remains higher in deprived communities and among those with substance use disorders.

Of people aged 15 and over, 49pc said they have gambled in the 12 months prior to the survey, which was taken as part of the 2019/20 National Drug and Alcohol Survey which interviewed 5,762 people.

The most common type of gambling sees four-in-10 people buying a lottery ticket or scratch card in person, with one-in-10 gambling in a bookmaker’s shop, and just under one-in-10 placing a bet on horse or dog racing.

However, there has been a drop in the number of people buying lottery tickets or scratch cards. This has fallen from 57pc in 2014 to 42pc.

The study has identified that around 90,000 adults in Ireland are low-risk gamblers, 35,000 are moderate-risk gamblers and 12,000 adults are problem or ‘at-risk’ gamblers.

It said problem gambling is those who gamble with negative consequences and a lack of control, and is associated with living in a deprived area and being unemployed.

A total 13pc of people with alcohol use disorder in this country are problem gambers, which compared to 2pc of low-risk drinkers.

Lead author of the report and research officer and the HRB Dr Deirdre Mongan said: “Men are five times more likely than women to be at-risk gamblers.

"In terms of the profile of at-risk or problem gamblers, commonly, it is men aged 25–34 who are living in a deprived area, are unemployed and experience substance use problems such as drug use, an alcohol use disorder or smoking.”

The Republic of Ireland has a lower percentage of gamblers compared to the UK as a whole and significantly lower than Northern Ireland (67pc).

Commenting on the findings of the report, Dr Morgan added: “This new HRB data indicates that most people who gamble, do so safely.

“It also shows that gambling problems affect the lives of 135,000 people in Ireland, in particular, young men and people experiencing socioeconomic deprivation.

"The correlation between problem gambling and harmful alcohol or drug use is of real concern as the presence of substance use disorders can lead to difficulties in treatment.

“The report highlights the need to understand both the social and psychological risk factors that lead to problem gambling in order to shape regulatory and public health responses.

"This could include the regulation of access to gambling, the screening of individuals at-risk, and the provision of and greater access to dedicated treatment services.”