In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Anne Marie Caulfield, CEO of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI), revealed the watchdog’s plans to carry out further recruitment of experts in an effort to address the close ties the sports industry has with gambling and the issue of problem gambling as a whole. This interview follows an Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) study published earlier this year, which outlined a range of findings on how Irish residents are affected by gambling and found that over 130,000 people in Ireland struggle with gambling addiction.
Ms Caulfield claimed that one of the watchdog’s main goals is to keep children safe from problem gambling and that the Irish government’s plans to ban the broadcasting of gambling advertisements from 5:30am to 9pm will play a crucial role in achieving this. She continued, explaining how sports is something that has a “positive influence for young people” and that gambling could turn sports into something that is harmful to children.
Ms Caulfield added that collaboration with Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) will be an important aspect of the regulator’s plans to address gambling harm. In addition to ensuring that Irish residents have resources and support when it comes to gambling addiction, the watchdog will also aim to raise awareness, address the stigma associated with this issue, and ensure that those suffering from problem gambling will be informed on how they can seek help. She also acknowledged that the regulators have their work cut out for them and that it is crucial for them to “make a difference.”
Problem Gamblers and Their Close Ones Alike Face Repercussions From Gambling Harm
During the interview, Ms Caulfield noted how the results of the ESRI study were “stark.” Indeed, the findings showed that the problem gambling situation in Ireland is worse than previously anticipated. According to the ESRI’s estimates, one in 30 Irish adults are victims of problem gambling, which strongly contrasts data from several years prior, where the figures were ten times less than those shown in the latest research results. As established, the total figure of individuals suffering from problem gambling exceeds 130,000, and these Irish residents spend approximately €1,000+ on gambling each month. A lot of this money is spent on online gambling in particular, the data revealed.
In a statement made this August, Ms Caulfield emphasised that apart from individuals prone to problem gambling, those close to them, namely their friends and family, also suffered consequences from their close ones’ gambling addiction. She touched upon this issue in the Irish Examiner interview as well, noting how estimates point to how, for each individual who is a victim of problem gambling, up to seven people in their social circle are also affected.
With Ireland’s Gambling Regulation Bill 2022, which has not yet been passed, the government and the GRAI will set out to tackle these issues. An industry levy will serve to establish and maintain a Social Impact Fund, which will be utilised for the research of gambling harm, the provision of educational programmes as well as services that will aid those suffering from gambling addiction, and mitigate problem gambling as a whole.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.