Sunday 21 January 2018

Teenagers racking up €1m gambling debts

Edel O'Connell

MEN still in their teens are racking up debts of up to €1m to feed their gambling addiction, a leading psychologist has revealed.

The Rutland Centre in Dublin has seen a notable increase in clients seeking help for gambling addiction in the past three years. It was previously a relatively small problem.

And Dr Fiona Wheldon, who heads up the addiction treatment centre, said the 24-hour availability of online gambling had created a "crisis of addiction", particularly among men between the ages of 18-24.

Young men, she said, are getting involved in criminality to feed their habit and are racking up debts ranging from €250,000 to €1m. "We would rarely come across someone whose debt was lower than €250,000," she told the Irish Independent.

"These are ordinary young men who are not earning big sums of money but are borrowing from everywhere, not paying their bills or mortgages and often engaging in criminal activity to get money," Dr Wheldon said.

"They are borrowing from money lenders and stealing from their employers and by the time they end up on our door, they will usually have attempted suicide."

She added gambling addiction always becomes more prevalent at a time when people have less disposable income, and the Rutland Centre has witnessed a marked increase in the past two or three years.

Irish Independent

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