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Report Findings on Teenagers and Gambling Deeply Troubling

The Minister for State with responsibility for Law Reform and Youth Justice, James Browne, supports the publication of a landmark new report into the gambling habits of teenagers in Ireland.

The Children and Gambling: Evidence to inform regulation and responses in Ireland report, published by the Institute of Public Health, is the first study into the gambling activities of children aged 16 years in Ireland.

The report used data from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD), a cross-sectional survey of 15-16-year-old students that has been carried out every four years for over 25 years in more than 35 European countries.

The report found that between one-in- four and one-in-five (22.9%) 16-year-olds in Ireland reported gambling for money in the last 12 months.

Almost a quarter (23.1%) of those gambled for money gambled online.

Betting on sports or animals was the most common form of gambling among 16 year olds and this with a significant proportion doing so online.

Online gambling was associated with both excessive gambling and problem gambling with boys making up the overwhelming majority (80%) of 16 year olds that met the criteria for problem gambling.

Noting the findings, Minister Browne said, “the findings of this report are deeply troubling and serve to highlight why we, as a society, must protect children and vulnerable citizens from the harms associated with gambling. Reforming gambling legislation and regulation in Ireland is a key commitment in our Programme for Government and Justice Plan, and has been one of my priorities as Minister.”

“At its core, the Gambling Regulation Bill is a public health measure. A key focus of the Bill is to protect children from the widespread proliferation of gambling advertising across different forms of media. That is why the Bill provides for a watershed prohibiting the broadcast of gambling advertising on television, radio and on audio-visual media services between the hours of 5:30am and 9:00pm. The Bill introduces restrictions on the advertisement of gambling activities aimed particularly at protecting children and vulnerable people from the harms of problem gambling.”

“The legislation also provides for the establishment and operation of the National Gambling Exclusion Register and also introduces a number of additional measures to protect people who participate in gambling. It also establishes a Social Impact Fund, which will be used to finance research and related initiatives to address problem gambling behaviours, to support awareness–raising and educational measures and to support problem gambling treatment activities. I expect that the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022 will complete its journey through the Oireachtas early next year, subject to the cooperation of both Houses.”

The report found that one-in-ten of those who gambled in the last year demonstrated excessive gambling.

Furthermore, 8.1% felt the need to lie to people important to them about how much money they gambled and feeling the need to bet more and more money was experienced by almost one in five (19%).

The findings of this report signal the need for the regulation of gambling products with a view to protecting children and vulnerable members of society.

The report also points to the need for further data on children and gambling to be collected and monitored through national health surveys.

Minister Browne added, “it is a priority for the Government and my Department to reform our gambling legislation, licensing and regulation. The Bill sets out the framework and legislative basis for the establishment of a new, independent statutory body called Údarás Rialála Cearrbhachais na hÉireann (the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland) and for a robust regulatory and licensing regime to regulate gambling in-person and online, and for the regulation of gambling advertising, websites and apps.”

“Ms Anne Marie Caulfield was appointed CEO Designate of the Authority and her ongoing preparatory work, in tandem with the passage of the Gambling Regulation Bill 2022, will ensure that the Authority will be in a position to commence its work once the legislation is commenced and the members of the Authority are appointed.”

In addition to the watershed provisions, the Bill provides for a wide ranging power to allow the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland to prescribe the times, places and events where gambling advertising can be broadcast, displayed or published.

This power will allow the Authority to address the issue of gambling advertising on social media, online, and on traditional media such as television and radio, as well as in publications and outdoor advertising such as billboards etc. It will ensure that the Authority will have the requisite flexibility to adopt focused measures in a responsive and agile manner in order to regulate an industry that is ever changing, adapting and evolving.

The Bill also prohibits commercial gambling companies from sponsoring any event that is aimed at or appeals to children or from sponsoring sports teams, clubs and facilities where children are members.”


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