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Problem Gambling Trends

Results from the 2019–20 National Drug and Alcohol Survey - Gambling in the Republic of Ireland determined the following: 

  • 12,000 adults in the general population were problem gamblers 

  • Males were more likely than females to be problem gamblers 

  • In general, gambling prevalence was highest among those aged 35–49 years

  • Problem gambling was most prevalent among 25–34-year-olds 

Based on the available evidence, this report suggests that a public health approach to gambling can reduce gambling-related harms by regulating access to gambling, screening individuals at risk, and providing services for individuals with an identified gambling problem.

In 2019, Maynooth University's Department of Sociology and Maynooth Social Sciences Institute (MUSSI) undertook research funded by The Gambling Awareness Trust. The study examined the knowledge base and evidence on the nature and extent of gambling and gambling impacts in Ireland and how Ireland compares to international peer countries. The report titled "Gambling Trends, Harms and Responses: Ireland in an International Context" is the most comprehensive examination of the topic produced in Ireland to date, which supports the Gambling Awareness Trust to ensure service provision meets the identified needs and gaps in the area of problem gambling support services. This evidence-based approach is an invaluable resource for organisations that provide support regarding emerging best practices in the field internationally.

A Gambling-related Harm: Evidence Reviewcommissioned by the UK Department of Health and Social Care, highlights the link between gambling and mental health issues. The review found that gambling can increase the likelihood of some people thinking about, attempting or dying from suicide. Evidence suggests that people with gambling problems are at least twice as likely to die from suicide compared to the general population. 

The review also found that gender and poor mental health were the strongest indicators of gambling-related harm:

  • Men were 4.2 times more likely than women to be gambling at levels of elevated risk of harm.

  • People identified as having some mental health issues were twice as likely to participate in harmful gambling than those with no mental health issues.

  • Those who indicated they had a mental health condition were 2.4 times more likely to be gamblers experiencing gambling-related harms.

The evidence suggests that harmful gambling should be considered a public health issue because it harms individuals, their families, close associates and the wider society with an approach focusing on prevention, early intervention and treatment.  

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