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Dr David Coleman: We need to talk to kids about gambling in an open way

From the thrill of a ‘win’ in unwrapping a much sought-after collectible card, to video game ‘loot boxes’, children are introduced to the world of gambling very early on

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Online win: Kids can buy ‘loot boxes’ in video games without knowing what’s in them. Picture posed

Online win: Kids can buy ‘loot boxes’ in video games without knowing what’s in them. Picture posed

Online win: Kids can buy ‘loot boxes’ in video games without knowing what’s in them. Picture posed

Gambling is back in the news. Last week a political micro-storm blew up about some Dáil members accepting hospitality from the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) at the Punchestown Races recently. I think it is okay to question the motives of the IBA and the TDs and senators who took advantage of their hospitality. Gambling is a very serious problem in society, not just for adults but for children and teenagers too.

Research from Canada, the US, the UK, Norway, and Australia shows that between 63pc and 82pc of teenagers aged 12 to 17 years, gamble each year. Between 4pc and 7pc of adolescents exhibit serious patterns of pathological gambling, and 10pc to 15pc are at risk for either developing or returning to a serious gambling problem. Children introduced to gambling by the age of 12 are four times more likely to develop a gambling problem.


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