Up to 55,000 Irish people are estimated to have a serious gambling disorder according to a report funded by the Gambling Awareness Trust (GAT), who say tax revenue from the industry is now worth between €6-8 billion to the State per annum.
Approximately 66 per cent of men, women and under 18s are said to be gambling in Ireland, with the sector's revenue increasing in 2020 as people moved online due to the pandemic.
The report highlights there is no 'gambling-specific' public health programme, along with a lack of training for health practitioners on the matter.
The trend of sports 'gamblification' was also identified, referring to the increasing levels of gambling advertising on mainstream and online media, which is "contributing to problems and wider social harms".
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The report by Professors Aphra Kerr and John O'Brenn, and Dr Lucia Vazquez Mendoza of Maynooth University, found that for every person with a gambling issue, six further people were also impacted.
'Gambling trends, harms and responses: Ireland in an international context' argues "liberal attitude towards gambling behaviour in Ireland and the social stigma attached to problem gambling, has allowed a number of harmful gambling practices to develop".
Duty of care
Following the report's publication, Prof O'Brennan said the Irish State has a duty of care towards people experiencing the harms caused by gambling.
"Our report recommends the urgent establishment of a robust regulatory regime, and that a new industry levy and State funding be used to significantly enhance public treatment provision, education and awareness of gambling related harms, and research into harmful gambling," Prof O'Brennan said.
The GAT also revealed they have seen a 180 per cent increase in the number of visits to their website in recent months.
"This confirms that the problem is growing in Ireland. So, there is a need for investment in addiction services, training for professionals, early intervention services and education programmes," GTA's chief executive Pam Bergin said.
Ms Bergin added the billions of euros raised in tax from the betting industry shows the Government can afford to invest in effective care for people experiencing significant gambling problems.
If you require more information regarding problem gambling, visit GamblingCare.ie.