Sports gambling in Ireland, an addiction that’s on the rise

Normalisation of betting has left 20% of young gamblers hooked or at risk of developing a severe problem
Sports gambling in Ireland, an addiction that’s on the rise

Close-up on man holding a phone while winning an online bet on a football game.

GAMBLING on something as miniscule as a soccer game or backing a horse at the races could possibly lead to a detrimental addiction that spark some people to fall into a life of debt and depression.

Ireland is regularly cited as the third-ranked country in the world in terms of gambling spend per head of adult population.

Gambling can range from simply buying a lottery ticket or scratch card in the local shop to physically going into bookies to place a bet.

Your first thought might be that only an older generation physically go into the bookmakers to gamble, but this demographic has changed in recent years.

Due to the demand of gambling, betting apps have become so accessible to us that in a matter of seconds you are able to transfer money from your bank account straight into the app, with striking ease.

Once a single bet goes the right way the urge is there to keep going with the money inside of the accounts app already, beginning the dangerous chain events that come from this apps.

The normalisation of betting has left 20% of young gamblers addicted or at risk of developing a severe problem.


These figure comes from a report undertaken by the Health Research Board (HRB) which also stated that gamblers are most likely to be found in deprived areas.

One of the most striking facts to emerge from this study is that one in five men between the ages of 15-24 who have gambled in the last year are either problem gamblers or an “at-risk” category of gambling, compared to one in ten men of all ages.

This is a huge dilemma facing the young people of this generation as nearly every single sporting event in the world has a connection to a betting app in one way or another.

Now these are huge ad campaigns during games and create huge revenue for all parties involved in the sport, but at what cost to people watching on placing an innocent bet?

Another question that stands out from the research that has been done by the HRB is that the majority of problem gamblers facing addiction are male.

Men in this country are five times more likely to be an ‘at risk gambler’ than women according to this study, but why?

If you look at it from the perspective that men are more likely to be more interested in a range of sports, then it is easy to see why they are more inclined to place money on an event.

It can be seen as this ‘lad culture’ environment where nearly every social event that males attend focuses on a game or a sporting event of some kind.

In the innocence of these scenarios are the countless adverts that fly across the scene, only urging onlookers to place a bet.

The long-term effects of betting can have hugely damaging effects on people’s lives from borrowing excess money from family members or lying about where the money is actually going.

This is where the aftermath of the addiction comes to the forefront where the vicious circle of spending and losing can lead someone down a very dark path with little to no way of escaping.

Unfortunately for many of these severe gamblers breaking out of this pattern is a near impossibility due to the ever-growing debt that seems to be piling up around them, and for some, they only see one way of escapism, death.

For the families of the victims of gambling, it can be incredibly difficult to come to terms with the consequences of their loved one's death because most of the time they were unaware that betting was even an issue in their lives.

This culture of ‘lads’ not being able to speak about their problems in any respect needs to altered if we are to see any real change in behaviours and habits that plague men in this country.

More needs to be done by these huge sporting companies to not only promote betting during the ads but also mention outlooks and programmes that can be used by people facing addiction.

There seems to be this stereotype in Ireland that men are unable to speak to each other about serious issues, keeping it bottled up instead, which in turn leaves these issues to grow into something more significant than what it originally started out as.

Betting and sports companies needs to come together to create a plan where viewers are seeing encouraging ads around gambling rather than money, money, money until it is too late.

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