Monday 16 September 2019

Unlearned lessons on gambling

Whenever I talk to people about online gambling, usually they say something about young people on their phones.

In fact, that's usually the first thing they say, that they have deep worries about their kids gambling in ways that kids could never gamble before. So you would think by now there'd be a lot of information on this, gathered by researchers in the various departments who are surely aware by now that something big is going on out there.

Yet the only one I've seen, has been done by my friend Tony O'Reilly ("Tony 10") as part of his work in preventing gambling harm. In the schools he visited, he did a survey involving about 500 students in Transition Year, Fifth and Sixth Years.

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Among the very interesting results was that 42pc of them stated they think gambling is a problem in schools; 47pc thought it was safe to gamble; 60pc said they'd never received guidance or education about gambling before Tony's talk - and unhappily related to this is the fact that 55pc said that advertising prompted them to gamble.

"This one blows my mind," says Barry Grant of Problem Gambling Ireland, as it exposes the corporate line that advertising is "only directed at adults".

David Hickson, one of the few industry figures who has long advocated the need for legislation, feels that it calls for a much larger study, and that "the absence of regulation and proper research heightens the risk to which young people are potentially exposed".

But it is probably not a great mystery why this much larger study does not exist. Though the result of such studies is usually to confirm what is already common knowledge, when some department eventually manages to put the numbers together, the next thing is that they might be expected to do something about it. Before it's too late.

Or in this case, after it's too late.

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