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Bookmakers admit gambling is not 'a fun activity' for everyone with addiction a 'very real' problem

Bookmakers admit that gambling is not a fun activity for everyone, with nearly 40,000 people in I...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

08.46 19 Nov 2020


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Bookmakers admit gambling is n...

Bookmakers admit gambling is not 'a fun activity' for everyone with addiction a 'very real' problem

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

08.46 19 Nov 2020


Share this article


Bookmakers admit that gambling is not a fun activity for everyone, with nearly 40,000 people in Ireland addicted to the activity.

Safer Gambling Week starts today which aims to raise awareness about the effects of problem gambling.

Meanwhile, a survey from the European Schools Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs this week found that 23% of teenage boys and 7% of teenage girls had reported gambling in the previous 12 months.

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Of those who had gambled in the previous 12 months, 26% reported that they had felt the need to bet more and more money, and 12% reported that they had to lie to people important to them about how much they gambled.

Sharon Byrne from the Irish Bookmakers Association told Newstalk Breakfast that gambling is not a fun activity for everyone.

She said: "For the majority of adults, gambling is a fun activity but for those that have a problem or addiction, it's very real.

"That's why the industry has come together in the last few years to raise awareness of problem gambling and the supports and services that are available to people that may be suffering.

"We don't just do this on a weekly basis we do it on a day to day basis but the difference with Safer Gambling Week is that the whole industry unites in sharing the same message, hoping that it will reach even further and that somebody somewhere might remember the freephone number which is 1800 936 725 and share it with somebody that might need help."

Bookmakers admit gambling is not 'a fun activity' for everyone with addiction a 'very real' problem

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Also speaking to Newstalk Breakfast was former Armagh footballer Oisín McConville who discussed Ireland's gambling epidemic and his own past addiction.

He said: "For a lot of people it's a fun activity, it's something which is quite sociable, but for an awful lot of people and an increasing amount of people that are introduced to gambling, it does become a problem.

"It becomes a problem quite quickly and I think that's to do with the fact that they reckon 80% plus of gambling is done exclusively on the internet.

"That has changed gambling dramatically in the last ten or 15 years.

"The big thing about gambling as an issue is it's the most hidden of all addictions with the highest rate of suicide.

"The reason for that is people get very embarrassed or ashamed, that pride is built up they don't want to ask for help."

Crisis point

Oisín added that the problem with gambling, as opposed to other addictions, is that there are no physical indicators that a person may need help.

He said: "When people do have problems with compulsive gambling, when they have issues and they get into severe difficulty, there's no physical signs of it.

"It's very difficult to spot, it's very hidden, so what generally happens is the first time people know about it, friends or family, is when it's at crisis point.

"For a lot of people sometimes it can be too late.

"The positive thing is that there is help out there for people and the stigma has been lifted a lot more."

Oisín said that gambling can have a corrosive effect on people's lives as it is used to mask other issues.

He said: "People gamble for a reason, I gambled to mask a lot of the insecurities I had.

"People looking from afar at me would have said that I had it very much together.

"There's a certain degree of pressure to fulfil what people think of you and I find that very difficult.

"Once I started gambling, it wasn't actually the act of gambling it was more what's going on outside of that.

"The things I was willing to do to gamble, beg, borrow, steal, and scheme.

"The other part of that, there was collateral damage as I went along.

"Relationships suffered, friendships, self-respect, self-esteem, it caused the positive I had in my life to drain.

"All those things were being taken away from me bit by bit, and a lot of them were taken away from me and I didn't even realise they were going."

Oisín added that he doesn't have confidence in the gambling industry that they want to address the issue.

He said the fact that they are regulating themselves means they will not find a solution, and rather there needs to be "joined-up thinking" to address problem gambling in Ireland.

Anyone seeking support for problem gambling can call 1800 936 725

Main image: File photo. Credit: PA


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Gambling Gambling Addiction Gambling Awareness Irish Bookmakers Association Safer Gambling Week

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