Alarming Trends in Youth Gambling Revealed by Institute of Public Health Report
A recent report, produced by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) in collaboration with the TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI), sheds light on the prevalence of gambling for money among 16-year-olds in Ireland.
The report, titled “Children and gambling – evidence to inform regulation and responses in Ireland,” presents a comprehensive analysis of youth gambling habits and associated factors.
The report’s key findings are as follows:
- Approximately 22.9% of 16-year-olds in Ireland have engaged in gambling for money in the last 12 months.
- A significant gender gap exists, with 28.2% of boys and 17.9% of girls reporting gambling activities.
- Alarmingly, 23.1% of children who gambled in the past year participated in online gambling.
- This trend raises concerns about the accessibility and potential risks of online gambling for underage individuals.
Popular Forms of Gambling
- Betting on sports or animals, such as horses and dogs, emerged as the most prevalent form of gambling among Irish youth, with 60.7% participating.
- Other popular forms of gambling included lotteries (51.8%), playing cards or dice (41.3%), and slot machines (36.9%).
- A small but significant portion of young gamblers exhibited signs of problem gambling, with 5.6% experiencing both the need to lie about their gambling and the urge to bet increasingly larger amounts.
- Excessive gambling, defined as a score of 4 or higher, was reported by 10.3% of those who gambled in the last year.
Factors Associated with Youth Gambling
The report also explores the various factors associated with youth gambling:
Male adolescents were more likely to engage in gambling activities compared to their female counterparts.
Female gender was identified as a protective factor against excessive gambling.
Lower socioeconomic status and parental education beyond secondary school were associated with increased gambling prevalence.
Digital Media and Gaming:
Extensive use of digital media and gaming, both on school days and non-school days, was linked to higher rates of online and excessive gambling.
Youth who reported using tobacco, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and engaging in heavy episodic drinking were more likely to engage in gambling activities.
Behavioural and Emotional Factors:
Experiencing serious arguments, trouble with the police, and self-harm tendencies were associated with increased gambling.
The findings of the IPH and TFRI report provide valuable insights into the prevalence of youth gambling in Ireland and the factors contributing to this concerning trend. With a growing number of young people engaging in online gambling, there is an urgent need for effective regulatory measures, education, and support systems to address the potential risks associated with underage gambling. Additionally, the report underscores the importance of further research and data collection to better understand and mitigate the impact of youth gambling on public health and well-being.