Underage Gambling Prevalent among 16-Year-Olds in Ireland

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A recent report reveals that approximately one in four 16-year-olds in Ireland have gambled over the past year, and nearly a quarter struggled with managing their gambling habits.

The report titled ‘Children and gambling – Evidence to inform regulation and responses in Ireland’ shares insights gathered from 1,949 Irish secondary school students. It was jointly released by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) and the TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI). As in most European countries, the legal age for gambling in Ireland is 18.

Related: Research Reveals Underestimated Number of Gambling Addicts in Ireland

Out of the surveyed 16-year-olds, 22.9% admitted to gambling for money in the previous year. There was a marked difference between boys and girls, with a rate of 28.2% for boys and girls at 17.9%. The most popular form of gambling was sports betting, at 60.7%. Lotteries followed at 51.8%, card or dice games at 41.3%, and slot machines attracted 36.9%.

Addressing Underage Gambling Issues in Ireland

The study emphasized the severity of underage excessive gambling in the country. Among those who gambled, 10.3% showed signs of excessive gambling. Furthermore, 5.6% matched the criteria for problem gambling, including lying about their gambling expenses and the compulsion to increase their bets. Worryingly, 21.3% of participants reported difficulty in controlling their gambling behavior, with 19.0% feeling the urge to increase their betting amount, and 8.1% deceived significant individuals regarding their gambling expenses.

The report found that boys were at greater risk of gambling harm, with 80% of those who engaged in excessive gambling were boys. Moreover, boys were almost three times more likely to be excessive gamblers compared to girls and were two-and-a-half times more likely to become problem gamblers.

IPH Calls for Proactive Intervention

Dr. Helen McAvoy, IPH’s director of policy, stated the research underscores the necessity for proactive interventions.

This report shows that when 16-year-olds in Ireland engage in gambling, quite a few of them run into difficulty. This is particularly the case for betting on sports and betting online and for boys. Gambling rates among this age group in Ireland are around the European average, highlighting the need for a public health approach to reduce gambling harms.

Dr. Helen McAvoyIPH Director of Policy

Dr. Ciara Reynolds, IPH’s public health development officer, has expressed hopes that this report will guide Ireland’s ongoing gambling reforms. She emphasized the urgent need for more in-depth research on children and gambling in national surveys, which will lay the foundation for targeted strategies to shield children from the harms of gambling.

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