Two-thirds of population have gambled in last 12 months.
Lottery tickets and scratch cards most common form of gambling.
Data will provide baseline to assist in policy formation and future action.
The Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD, and Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD, have today (Wednesday) published the first set of data on the extent of gambling in Ireland.
The data is published in Bulletin 7 of the 2014/15 Drug Prevalence Survey and is based on fieldwork carried out between August 2014 and August 2015.
Responding to the results, Minister Stanton said:
“The modernisation of our gambling legislation and the better regulation of the gambling industry is a priority for Government. This is especially important for the small percentage of people for whom gambling can negatively affect significant areas of their lives including their mental and physical health, employment, finances and relationships with others. This survey, and the continued future gathering of this data, will greatly aid our understanding of the issue and help us plan our interventions accordingly.”
The survey will provide a baseline of data to assist in policy formulation and future planning and action on gambling. The initial results of the next survey, covering the period 2018/19, are expected within the next 12 months.
Echoing the need for reliable statistics, Minister Byrne said:
“The statistics show that many people in Ireland engage in various forms of gambling without any issue arising. For the small percentage of people for whom gambling is a problem, we need measures to reduce problem gambling and its impact on individuals and their families. For this, the collection of data is very important. I was particularly interested to note from the survey that the prevalence of all gambling was highest among middle management senior civil servants, managers and owners of their own business and lowest among semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers, trainees and apprentices. This highlights that evidence based policy making is essential in ensuring that our policy and legislative approach to addressing this complex and evolving area is fit for purpose."
Minister Stanton will shortly bring to Government for its approval the report of an Inter-Departmental Working Group which has been reviewing the provisions of the General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill 2013.
Looking ahead to this report, Minister Stanton added:
“The Working Group’s report will address the issues of introducing a modern licensing approach to all gambling activities, including advertising, establishing an independent regulatory authority, and enhancing protection of consumers and vulnerable persons. The figures released today show that a high proportion of the population is involved to some extent in gambling and highlights the need for regulation and protective measures. I also intend to shortly bring a Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill to Government for approval to publish. This Bill will propose important amendments to the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956."
The most common form of gambling is on lottery tickets or scratch cards, with 56.7% reporting this form of gambling in the last year, and 35.4% reporting this form of gambling on a monthly (or more frequent) basis.
Those aged 55-64 are most likely to report gambling in the last year (72.4%), followed by 35-44 year olds (70.5%) and 45-54 year olds (69.4%).
Almost one in ten 15-17 year olds bought a lottery ticket or scratch card in the last year, and 9.4% placed a bet at a horse or dog-racing meeting.
The prevalence of all gambling in the last year was highest among those in Group B (Middle Management senior civil servants, managers and owners of own business) (71.4%), and lowest among Group D (Semi-Skilled and unskilled manual workers, trainees and apprentices) (60.4%).
Gambling online or by telephone is most prevalent in the 25-34 year old group (5.7%), followed by 18-24 year olds (4.8%).
Males have a higher prevalence of problem gambling than females (1.4% vs. 0.2%).
Prevalence of problem gambling in the general population was 0.8%
Problem gambling is most common in young males (2.9% in males aged 25-34 and 1.9% in males aged 18-24).
The prevalence of problem gambling in females is less than 1% in all age groups.
In response to the DSM-IV problem gambling questionnaire, 4.7% of males and 1.7% of females reporting chasing losses in the last 12 months.
For the purpose of this survey, gambling includes the following activities:
Buying a lottery ticket or scratch card
Playing lottery games online
Gambling in a bookmaker’s shop, gambling online or by telephone
Placing a bet at a horse or dog race meeting
Playing games at a casino, playing a gaming/slot machine
Playing card games for money with friends/family
The term 'prevalence' in this bulletin refers to the proportion of the population who have gambled in a particular time period.
This general population survey was a collaborative project between the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol and colleagues in the Public Information and Health Research Branch (PHIRB) within the Department of Health in Northern Ireland. On this occasion, the fieldwork was carried out by Ipsos MRBI in Ireland.
Fieldwork for the survey was carried out between August 2014 and August 2015 and the final achieved sample comprised of 7,005 respondents in the Republic of Ireland. A further survey for 2018/2019 is currently being undertaken under the auspices of the Health Research Board (HRB). This survey will also contain a specific section on gambling prevalence, with an extended range of questions.
The Department of Justice and Equality contributed to the cost of the 2014/2015 survey and will do so for the 2018/2019 survey.