'It doesn’t care what age you are or what sex you are, it’ll get you' - Baz Ashmawy on Ireland's insidious problem
Emmy-award winning TV presenter Baz Ashmawy has highlighted the “huge effect” gambling is having on people in Ireland today, ahead of his documentary on the subject.
The 43-year-old presenter told The Ray D’Arcy Show last night that gambling is a bigger problem in Ireland than people realise.
“It’s an addiction. You see, the thing is if you have a friend who has a drink problem, he starts stumbling around and makes a fool of himself on a couple of nights, and you pull him over and you say, look we have to talk about your drinking, you need to cool it down… people with problem gambling, and there’s lots of them out there, are walking around with all of that in their head.”
There is not enough awareness in Ireland about how extensive the problem is, he said.
“There’s no prevalence, there’s no studies done in the country, any of the information we have about being the worst, we didn’t do that, world organisations have told us that information.”
“No one gives a shit about gamblers here, and something has to be done, something has to change.”
“It’s an equal opportunities employer. It doesn’t care what age you are or what sex you are, it’ll get you, but it is having a huge effect on young men. It is having a huge effect on young men and we have to do something about it,” he said.
Baz has previously told how he was aware of the effects of gambling when he was growing up, because his Dad used to play poker when he was young.
He remembered times when they were living in rented accommodation and when money won at the tables might have bought a house, if it hadn't swiftly been returned to the tables from whence it came.
He previously said: "I just relate to people with addictive personalities. It's my understanding that addiction comes from a slight emptiness inside people… there's a hole there, that people feel they need to fill. And they'll fill it with drink or drugs or gambling or food or whatever it is, as a form of escapism. And I understand that, I understand wanting that escape from the pressure of life or whatever it is.
"I never quite had the understanding for gambling that I did with other kinds of addiction, maybe because I didn't see it as a chemical addiction, you know? It's only when you talk to these problem gamblers that you see what it is. It's a real, real, addiction but it's so normalised… reminds me of cigarette companies in the 1950s where everyone was smoking in movies and it was just normal and fine, and sure, why wouldn't you? It's everywhere around you but it's so everywhere around you that it's invisible… if that makes sense."
All Bets Are Off will be shown on RTE One at 9.30pm tomorrow night.