A NEW report has estimated that there are 12,000 problem gamblers in Ireland.
'Gambling in the Republic of Ireland', a new report by the Health Research Board defined problem gambling as "those who gamble with negative consequences and a possible loss of control," and found that the issue is greater associated with living in a deprived areas and being unemployed.
There is also a correlation between problem gambling and substance use (drugs, alcohol and/or smoking), with 13% of those with an alcohol use disorder classified as an at-risk or problem gambler compared with 2% of low-risk drinkers.
Almost half of people aged 15 and over said they gambled in the twelve months prior to the survey.
The most common type of gambling is doing the lottery or scratch cards in person (four in ten people), with one-in-ten gambling in a bookmaker's shop.
Just under one-in-ten people placed a bet on a horse or dog racing, with placing a bet at a horse or dog race, gambling online, over the phone or in a bookmakers being associated with the highest spend.
Almost everyone who gambled in a bookmaker’s shop or online, did so by placing a bet on a sports event.
Also, when lottery activities are excluded, men are more likely than women to gamble.
According to Dr Deirdre Mongan, Research Officer at the Health Research Board and lead author of the report:
"Men are five times more likely than women to be at-risk gamblers. In terms of the profile of at-risk or problem gamblers, commonly, it is men aged 25–34 who are living in a deprived area, are unemployed and experience substance use problems such as drug use, an alcohol use disorder or smoking."
There are also around 35,000 moderate risk gamblers, and 90,000 low-risk gamblers in Ireland.
When compared tot he UK, gambling figures in Ireland (49%) are lower than in the UK, where figures ranged from 50% in Wales to 67% in Northern Ireland.
Dr Morgan said that the data shows that most people who gamble do so safely.
"It also shows that gambling problems affect the lives of 135,000 people in Ireland, in particular, young men and people experiencing socioeconomic deprivation," she said.
"The correlation between problem gambling and harmful alcohol or drug use is of real concern as the presence of substance use disorders can lead to difficulties in treatment. This is reflected in a recent Irish study which found that almost one-half of problem gambling treatment cases have a substance use problem.
"The report highlights the need to understand both the social and psychological risk factors that lead to problem gambling in order to shape regulatory and public health responses. This could include the regulation of access to gambling, the screening of individuals at-risk, and the provision of and greater access to dedicated treatment services."