NEW research suggests that children as young as 14 years old in Ireland are being exposed to gambling in a multitude of ways.
Lawmakers and government officials have taken a strong stance, labelling gambling companies as ‘irresponsible’ and calling for outright bans on gambling advertising.
So, how are kids in Ireland encountering gambling in their daily lives? Is this a public safety concern? What action are public officials taking to curb the problem? And finally, what does this mean for gambling companies and the future of the industry?
The research Each year, the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission authorises a study in conjunction with GambleAware, conducted and produced by Ipsos MORI to examine trends in gambling participation among young people in England and Scotland. Although this research is not specifically related to the youth of Ireland, the findings speak to a larger problem in the culture of the region as a whole.
In producing the research, the agency surveyed 11-16-year-olds in England and Scotland to determine their relationship to gambling and related activities. The results of the study found that, shockingly, a substantial number of respondents had a significant amount of interaction with gambling in their daily lives.
● 58% had seen or heard gambling adverts.
● Half (50%) had previously gambled, all of which had done so in the presence of a parent or guardian.
● 37% had gambled in the last 12 months.
● 9% had used their own money to gamble in the week prior to the survey alone.
● 1.9% are classified as ‘problem gamblers’.
Whatever your feelings on gambling, these statistics are compelling, especially considering the ages of those interviewed. After seeing the number of child problem gamblers quadruple in the last two years, the UK’s Guardian even went so far as to call it a “generational scandal”.
How children in Ireland are exposed to gambling
While it’s perfectly fine for adults to gamble as they please for entertainment purposes, like the range offered at NoDepositRewards, we need to limit exposure to children while they are underage.
When confronting this potential social issue, it’s important first to look at the ways in which kids are presented with the activity of gambling and how it might pose a danger to them in their early development.
Advertising is the most prevalent means of gambling exposure that young people encounter, especially during or at sporting events that are massively popular among young people.
Whether through television, print advertising, billboards, or social media, the youth of Ireland are constantly inundated with the excitement and thrills that gambling companies offer.
Older children or teens with access to a smartphone or mobile device are able to download and play casino-style games such as simulated poker games or virtual slot machines that they may see on social media.
These types of games use virtual money in-game and while they do allow in-app purchases, they are not categorized as gambling games and do not have to abide by gambling regulations or age restrictions.
Popular video games such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Fortnight, and FIFA all contain in-game purchases and downloadable content that supplement the actual game, commonly known as ‘loot boxes’.
Irish justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, went on record saying that loot boxes constituted a form of gambling, allowing children to play to receive virtual money, which can also be purchased using real money.
While all of these means of exposure are striking, social media is the one that actually encompasses them all, acting as free platforms for kids to view, play, and see even more gambling advertisements than traditional methods would allow.
The official response
Upon reviewing the results of the recent survey, Senator Mark Wall of the Irish Labour Party has launched a #BeatTheAds campaign, calling for a ban on advertising by gambling companies. He maintains that the influence of advertising on inexperienced and impressionable minds can lead to a lifetime of problem gambling, especially when it begins at such a young age.
Additionally, he has recommended a ban on free bets in Ireland.
"We need to tackle what's actually happening, as I said, young people, particularly those 15, 16, 17-year-olds who shouldn't be gambling in the first place, are being exposed to free bets, it's their first introduction to betting.” Senator Wall places much of the responsibility in the hands of the Irish Health Service (HSE), calling on the HSE to act swiftly in tackling this growing health concern.
Problem-gambling in Ireland
New research has found that almost three-quarters of Irish people know a gambling addict or have been in contact with one in their regular lives. This shows that the activity has become so prevalent among Irish adults that there will likely be some amount of overflow among the youth that are surely watching.