The number of students in Ireland seeking help for problems with gambling has risen dramatically over the last three years, according to GambleAware.
It is estimated by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland that the rate of gambling amongst adolescents is between two and three times higher than the rate of adults.
The overall rate of gambling has continued to rise as the advances in online gaming makes it more available to customers, with an estimated 40,000 people suffering with problems with gambling.
Speaking to DCUfm’s Newswire, Gamble Aware Director of Operations Brian Barry spoke about the rise in these numbers which has led to more young people coming to them with problems with gambling.
“We’ve seen a huge rise over the last three years, especially in younger people. The more people that are gambling, the more people that come to us with gambling problems,” Barry said.
“I used to rarely get people under the age of 22 contacting me, whereas now a third of the people contacting me are under that age, so it’s definitely a problem.”
Gambling addiction has become more visible throughout the last few years, particularly thanks to high profile cases of sportsmen suffering from the problem.
Davy Glennon made headlines throughout the country last week for sharing his story regarding his problem, which saw him go to lengths such as hide in a bookmaker’s bathroom to avoid his mother trying to him get him to leave, and spend money saved for his brother’s birthday on a bet.
While Barry did admit this was an extreme case, he spoke about what he believed the reason was for gambling addiction inflicting sportsmen in particular.
“They think they would know more than other people in particular sports…so they think they might have an edge over other people when it comes to gambling. But if you are a compulsive gambler, that’s never the case”, Barry said.
Research from the European School Survey Project On Alcohol and Other Drugs found that more than one in ten people aged between 15 and 16 gambled frequently.
It is believed that online gambling sites (some of which don’t require proper age verification) are leading to the increase in gambling, and the removal of the stigma surrounding it which may have once existed.
“They don’t have to go to the bookies shop, they don’t even have to get out of bed. They can stay at home and gamble 24 hours a day if they wish”, Barry said.
It was expected that a levy on gambling was going to be implemented in last month’s Budget, but no measures were taken.
Unlike other countries, Irish people currently pay no tax on gambling winnings and the tax on gambling online is currently only 1%.
Mr. Barry agreed that a levy on gambling should be implemented as a measure to deter excessive gambling, but insisted that proper legislation must be introduced first.
“We need a regulator, and we need laws; laws that are actually enforced,” Barry said.
GambleAware currently works to promote awareness of gambling addiction and give funding to the research of pathological gambling and to assist effective methods of treatment.
When asked what students should do if they believe their gambling is starting to get out of hand, Barry insisted that one should never look towards gambling as a way of making money.
“Once you’ve made a bet you have to be expecting that the money is gone, and then if you win it’s a nice bonus, rather than trying to make money from gambling”.
“Keep an eye on it and understand what you are doing. Gambling has to be fun; you can’t be expecting to win or needing to bet”.
If you think you are suffering with a problem or addiction to gambling, call the National Gambling Helpline on 1800 753 753 to speak with a qualified counsellor who can provide you with free, professional and confidential assistance.