Research Reveals Underestimated Number of Gambling Addicts in Ireland

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Research conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) suggests that Ireland may be downplaying the number of gambling addicts within its borders. The ESRI's findings indicate that the actual number of problem gamblers in Ireland could be higher than previously believed.

This revelation comes at a crucial time for Ireland as the country prepares to implement a new regulatory framework for the gambling industry. As part of this framework, a new industry watchdog called the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI) is set to be established in the third quarter of the year. The GRAI will be responsible for gaming regulation and ensuring consumer protection.

The ESRI's research raises concerns about the accuracy of the current data on problem gambling in Ireland. While there are currently around 12,000 individuals listed as problem gamblers, the ESRI suggests that an additional 35,000 individuals may be at risk of developing gambling-related issues. To gain a better understanding of the extent of the problem, the GRAI has commissioned a second study by the ESRI focused on measuring the true scale of problem gambling in the country.

One of the key factors contributing to the underestimation of problem gambling numbers is the societal stigma associated with the issue. Many individuals may be reluctant to admit they have a gambling problem, leading to their struggles going unnoticed. The ESRI highlights the need for improved data collection methods that account for this stigma and encourage more accurate reporting.

Furthermore, the ESRI emphasizes the importance of understanding public attitudes towards gambling and the impact of marketing techniques on consumers. Behavioural audits of marketing strategies should be conducted to assess their influence on individuals vulnerable to gambling addiction.

Across the globe, the issue of problem gambling has gained significant attention, particularly in countries like France and the United Kingdom. France has witnessed a rise in the number of problem gamblers from 200,000 to 340,000, reflecting the growing concern worldwide. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has maintained a steady number of problem gamblers, but advances in technology have allowed for better identification of individuals who have evaded detection for years.

In the United Kingdom, regulatory efforts are focused on consumer protection. The government is currently consulting on a proposed White Paper aimed at implementing swift and meaningful changes to address problem gambling.

With the impending establishment of the GRAI, Ireland has an opportunity to address the issue of problem gambling head-on. By acknowledging the limitations of current data and implementing improved data collection methods, Ireland can gain a more accurate understanding of the problem. This knowledge will be crucial in developing effective measures to protect consumers and provide support for individuals struggling with gambling addiction.

Ultimately, tackling problem gambling requires a multi-faceted approach involving regulation, education, and support services. By prioritizing consumer protection and taking a harder look at problem gambling numbers, Ireland can pave the way for a safer and more responsible gambling environment for its citizens.

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