The Irish Government has released the results of its first gambling participation survey saying the data will provide a baseline to assist in policy formation and future action.
The Irish Government has been slow to update archaic regulation dating back to 1956, however, a renewed push seems to be in the making with Minister of State of the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, indicating the implementation of sweeping reforms by the end of 2019.
Results from the survey, undertaken in 2014/15, will provide a baseline from which to compare the initial results of the next survey, covering the period 2018/19, which is expected to be published within the next 12 months.
The outdated sample of the 2014/15 survey comprised 7,005 respondents, with key findings as follows:
The most common form of gambling is on lottery tickets or scratch cards, with 56.7 percent reporting to have indulged in this form of gambling in the last year, and 35.4 percent reporting this form of gambling on a monthly (or more frequent) basis.
Those aged 55-64 are most likely to report having gambled in the last year (72.4 percent), followed by 35-44 year olds (70.5 percent) and 45-54 year olds (69.4 percent).
Concernedly, almost one in ten 15-17 year olds said they had bought a lottery ticket or scratch card in the last year, and 9.4 percent had placed a bet at a horse or dog-racing meeting.
The prevalence of all gambling in the last year was highest among those in Group B comprising Middle Management senior civil servants, managers and owners of own business (71.4 percent), and lowest was among Group D – Semi-Skilled and unskilled manual workers, trainees and apprentices (60.4%).
Gambling online or by telephone is most prevalent in the 25-34 year old group (5.7 percent), followed by 18-24 year olds (4.8 percent).
Males have a higher prevalence of problem gambling than females (1.4 percent vs. 0.2 percent).
Prevalence of problem gambling in the general population was 0.8 percent.
Problem gambling is most common in young males (2.9 percent in males aged 25-34 and 1.9 percent in males aged 18-24).
The prevalence of problem gambling in females is less than 1 percent in all age groups.
In response to the DSM-IV problem gambling questionnaire, 4.7 percent of males and 1.7 percent of females reporting chasing losses in the last 12 months.
“The modernisation of our gambling legislation and the better regulation of the gambling industry is a priority for Government,” Stanton said. “This is especially important for the small percentage of people for whom gambling can negatively affect significant areas of their lives including their mental and physical health, employment, finances and relationships with others.
“This survey, and the continued future gathering of this data, will greatly aid our understanding of the issue and help us plan our interventions accordingly.”
Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD dismissed the survey results in its entirety saying the data shouldn’t be used as an accurate basis for future policy information because it is dated, flawed and at variance with new evidence and anecdotal evidence.
““We need a dedicated problem gambling survey with a straight comparison with the north, with Scotland, with Wales, and with England. What has been done here is ridiculous and it cannot be used as an accurate basis for future policy direction to tackle problem gambling.
“Furthermore, the data that is here is nearly five years old and that is not a good enough base policy formation either.”
Read the full results of the 2014/15 survey here.