Three in four Irish people know someone who is battling with a gambling addiction

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Gabija Gataveckaite

Three in every four Irish people know at least one person with a gambling addiction, a new survey shows.

A quarter of Irish people gamble at least once a month, while 7.4pc gamble over 10 times a month.

The survey, conducted by Labour Senator Mark Wall, found 80pc of respondents said they were in favour of a total ban on gambling advertising, while three-quarters agreed that they have noticed an increase in gambling advertisements.

Nearly half (46.8pc) of respondents said that they most often gambled in horse racing and 63pc said that gambling adverts make them more likely to place a bet.

Mr Wall said that it is “clear” from the findings that there is a “national problem” with gambling in Ireland.

“It’s hugely concerning to think that three out of every four people know someone with a gambling problem,” he said.

Eleven per cent of people said they think they may know somebody with a gambling addiction, with 1,170 people taking part in the online survey from February 17 to March 14.

One anonymous participant said that gambling is like the “plight of alcoholism” in Ireland. “I know families destroyed by gambling,” they said.

They described a situation where there was a “loss of their marriage and family home that they never knew was at risk because the person with the gambling problem hid it very well until it was too late”.

Another respondent, a 22-year-old man, said that the adverts for gambling are “unending”.

“If I play a video on YouTube I’ll most likely see them before, during (if it’s a long video) and after each ad.”

He added that he has placed bets before, but that the “constant bombardment” of adverts destroys people.

“I’ve placed bets before and I’ll likely place them again very irregularly for set events, but I know people who would be much more susceptible to these ads.

“Constant bombardment can, does and will destroy people,” he added.

Mr Wall said that with the Cheltenham racing festival taking place this week, a person with a gambling addiction will face even more challenges.

“Almost three quarters of respondents noticed an increase in gambling ads recently — we need to stop these companies in their tracks before this gets out of control,” he said.

“As people continue to stay at home and cut social contacts I am acutely aware of the difficulty any problem gambler will face with the higher levels of targeted online advertising.”

He added that smartphones make it much easier for people to gamble.

“Whereas previously there was some limit to the damage that could be caused as a result of people having to go to betting shops, now any person can gamble any amount of money on their phone,” he said.

His party published their Gambling (Prohibition of Advertising) Bill 2021 in February, which would see the banning of all gambling advertisements.

He was speaking as the bill is set to be introduced into the Seanad on Monday.