Tánaiste launches pioneering study on the social impact of gambling

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The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, T.D., today (Wednesday 15 July 2015) launched a UCD study on the social impact of gambling. The study, entitled Playing Social Roulette: The Impact of Gambling on Individuals and Society in Ireland, has a particular focus on problem gambling and the impact on the individuals and families concerned. The study is funded by the Irish Research Council with the support of the Department of Social Protection.

Speaking at the launch, the Tánaiste welcomed the study as providing new insights on the social impact of gambling in Ireland. She said: “I am very concerned about the social impact of gambling, given that we have a gambling culture in Ireland. Gambling pervades many aspects of Irish life, particularly sporting events. The negative effects on young people growing up in this gambling culture are a particular worry.  One of the most profound impacts of problem gambling is on the families who have to cope with the devastation and stress, compounded by having to deal with serious financial problems.  Another alarming finding that the study highlights is the connection between problem gambling and people gambling at a young age.”

The Tánaiste noted the link between problem gambling and indebtedness: “Gambling can lead to financial problems as gamblers incur debt problems to fund their addiction. In turn, financial pressures can encourage further gambling.”

The research study makes a number of policy recommendations in relation to addressing problematic gambling including, promoting responsible gambling, public awareness and education and improvements in prevention and treatment services.

The Tánaiste said that the Government intends to promote responsible gambling through the Gambling Control Bill. This, she said, will also provide for a Social Fund, resourced by a levy on the industry and this study will help inform the use of the social fund.

The objectives of the proposed social fund are to promote socially responsible gambling and to counter-act the ill effects of gambling for gamblers, their families and society. It will support public education and awareness raising programmes, fund research and establish and evaluate treatment programmes.

The Tánaiste also highlighted the role of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) in helping people deal with serious debt problems as a result of gambling.

The Principal Investigator for the study is Dr.Crystal Fulton from UCD.  Presenting the findings of the study, she said: “The research shows that problem gambling not only affects the individual who participates in gambling opportunities, but also that person’s family members, friends, and wider community.”

Dr Fulton pointed out that “technology has had a profound impact on gambling and is a gateway to secret, hidden, gambling activities. The increase of access to the internet and smartphone has seen a rise of gambling among young people and women. In fact, many problem gamblers often started gambling as teenagers.”

Problematic gambling can affect significant areas of a gambler’s life, including employment, finances, physical and mental health and family relations.



Note for Editors

The study, Playing Social Roulette: The Impact of Gambling on Individuals and Society in Ireland investigates the social phenomenon of gambling in Ireland and its impact on the lives of gamblers, as well as on their families and friends. The study uses qualitative research methods to better understand the nature of problem gambling. Interviews were carried out with addiction service providers, gamblers, families and friends of gamblers as well as a focus group with gambling organisations.

Link to Study: http://www.welfare.ie/en/pressoffice/pdf/Playing-Social-Roulette.pdf


Contact details

Dominic Martella, UCD at 087 2959118.

Veronica Scanlan, Department of Social Protection at 087 2549683

Last modified:15/07/2015