Ireland has received a warning regarding the need to improve its research and understanding of problem gambling ahead of the upcoming launch of a new Irish gambling market in 2023. This article delves into the findings of a study conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). It highlights the importance of prioritizing research on problem gambling during establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI). By addressing the gaps in knowledge, policymakers can make informed decisions to govern the gambling sector effectively.
The Findings of the Study Conducted by ESRI
A recent study by ESRI highlighted the need for improved research and understanding of problem gambling in Ireland. Here are some of the findings from this study:
Underestimated Prevalence- The study suggests that the issue of problem gambling could be more extensive than initially estimated and should be a top priority during the establishment of the new regulatory body, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI).
Previous estimates indicated that around 0.3% of the Irish population (approximately 12,000 individuals) experience problem gambling, with an additional 0.9% (approx 35,000 persons) classified as “at risk.” However, the ESRI report suggests these figures may have been underestimated due to survey design and response biases.
Factors Associated with Problem Gambling-The ESRI study also identified several significant factors associated with problem gambling. It found that problem gambling has a substantial societal burden of harm, often affecting individuals with less severe issues.
Men and younger individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds were identified as being at the greatest risk, along with those affected by addiction and mental health problems. The study also found that problem gambling is more prevalent among individuals engaged in high-frequency gambling activities, such as online casino gambling, interactive online gambling, and electronic gaming machines.
Influence of High-Frequency Gambling and Advertising-The study highlights the impact of high-frequency gambling activities, such as online gambling and casino games, on problem gambling. It also examines the role of gambling advertising in influencing behavior. It also emphasized the ineffectiveness of responsible gambling messaging.
Concerns About Targeted Advertising and Interactive Features-Additionally, the ESRI report raises concerns about the targeted advertising of gambling products to specific demographics and the increasingly interactive nature of gambling advertising. It highlighted the issues surrounding targeted advertising, financial incentives, and the interactive elements of gambling promotions. The study also highlighted the potential risks posed to youth through online activities such as social casino games and purchasing “loot boxes” in video games, which mimic gambling but remain largely unregulated.
With the GRAI set to become operational in Autumn 2023, the findings from the ESRI research and other studies are expected to drive significant changes in the Irish gambling industry. It’s clear that while the gambling industry continues to grow, it must do so responsibly, and that requires a greater understanding and addressing of problem gambling in Ireland.
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