Irish Child Gambling Report 'Deeply Troubling', Says Minister

September 11, 2023
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The Irish government minister in charge of gambling policy has called the findings of a report on children and gambling “deeply troubling”.
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The Irish government minister in charge of gambling policy has called the findings of a report on children and gambling “deeply troubling”.

James Browne, the minister of state at the Department of Justice, which is overseeing the introduction of the Gambling Regulation Bill, also suggested the findings reinforce the need for a watershed gambling advertising ban between 5:30am and 9:00pm.

The Department of Justice said: “The findings of this report signal the need for the regulation of gambling products with a view to protecting children and vulnerable members of society.”

Irish horseracing stakeholders have repeatedly warned that the advertising watershed in its current state will lead to severe consequences for the industry.

The Children and Gambling Report was published on September 7 by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) and TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI). It analysed 1,949 survey responses from Irish 16 year-olds, who were asked about their gambling activities in 2019. 

Key findings in the report include that 22.9 percent of 16 year-olds in Ireland gambled for money in the last 12 months, with 23.1 percent of those gambling online.

“Among all 16-year-olds, around 2.8 percent experienced excessive gambling. Among those 16 years who gambled for money in the last 12 months around 1 in 10 met the criteria for excessive gambling,” according to the report.

Sports betting, as well as horse and greyhound racing, were bet on by 14.5 percent of all 16 year-olds in the last 12 months. The second most used forms of gambling were lotteries, scratchcards and bingo, with 11.9 percent taking part in the last 12 months.

“Male gender, alcohol use, serious arguments and trouble with the police were the variables most strongly associated with gambling at age 16,” according to the report.

Browne said: “At its core, the Gambling Regulation Bill is a public health measure. A key focus of the bill is to protect children from the widespread proliferation of gambling advertising across different forms of media.”

The minister also said he expects the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 “will complete its journey through the Oireachtas early next year, subject to the cooperation of both Houses”.

A spokesperson for the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland recently told Vixio GamblingCompliance that its “Implementation Support team” is “ramping up preparations for enactment and establishment in a variety of areas such as recruitment, work streams such as licensing models and other requirements of the bill in its present form and the procurement of services, amongst others”.

Irish charity Extern Problem Gambling said on social media it is “great to see” Browne highlighting the report, adding that “underage gambling is a major public health issue, which needs to be tackled urgently”.

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