"I lost everything in 28 minutes" - Ireland's youth are gambling with their future

Newstalk.com has spoken to gambling addicts over how it affected them

Gambling, Ireland, addiction, gambling problem, Pat Kenny, Gamblers Anonymous

File photo | Image: RollingNews.ie

Ireland is home to an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 problem gamblers.

Experts say the situation has been worsened in recent years, due to the spread of online and app-based gaming - particularly among younger people and students.

Newstalk.com's Richard Chambers has been looking into the issue.

He spoke to gambling addicts who point to ads that come up during live sport.

Live odds during half-time, updated odds and side bets on pitchside hoardings are seen as a constant reminder.

There is a particular problem with online gambling - which makes young people particularly susceptible because the money is all but invisible and it is integrated with social media.

The Union of Students Ireland (USI) identified this problem a couple of weeks ago when they raised a motion at their Congress - the lack of conversation about the problems raised by gambling among students and young people.

One person researching the topic is Sean, who is aged in his mid-20s.

He has already seen his life destroyed by compulsive gambling. We have altered his voice to protect his anonymity.

Sean has been going to Gamblers Anonymous meetings - specifically ones targeted at young people.

He is now using his newfound perspective to rebuild his relationship with his family - but it is a long process.

Online gambling has become big - but we do not know to what degree problem gamblers are feeding into it.

Some 77% of Paddy Power profits now come from the website, and it is a similar figure for the other leading bookmakers.

The Irish Institute of Public Health says adolescent gambling is two to three times greater than for adults, because of online gambling.

And you see those stats and you see those ads.… the camaraderie and craic of betting on the phone in the pub during a live game with your mates and you hear the

Ian is a little bit older than Sean, and his story is about how gambling - and online gambling in particular - consumed him.

Ian's situation took him to new depths.

The bookies offer opt-outs - forms you can fill in either setting a limit on gambling or restricting betting by barring for a day, a week, or a month.

The bookies do have support staff who are trained by gambling counsellors.

If you visit any of the popular odds-checking or bookmaker websites, you will see banner ads and warnings about responsible gambling.

But for many that does not go far enough.

It is estimated only 1% of problem gamblers get the help they need.

Luckily, in Sean and Ian's case, there has been some reconciliation - but that is not always the case.

Dr Crystal Fulton of University College Dublin (UCD) published the Playing Social Roulette report, funded by the Irish Research Council into the impact of gambling on individuals and society as a whole.

She says that despite the services offered and awareness campaigns, it is often hard to escape and the most long-lasting impact is on those whose trust has been broken.

Anyone who has been affected by the issues raised here can visit Gamblers Anonymous or call: Dublin: 01-8721133, Cork: 087-2859552, Galway: 086-3494450, Tipperary: 085-7831045, and Waterford: 087-1850294/086-2683538