Problem Gambling In Northern Ireland

A recent report has highlighted that Northern Ireland has more problem gamblers than the rest of Britain. Mark Baillie, Policy Officer at CARE for Northern Ireland expressed concern over the prevalence of gambling: “This report shows an urgent need for the government authorities, whatever form it may take in the future, to take policy action to alleviate problem gambling. Problem gambling impacts not just the gambler, but also their family and friends. Crippling debt, divorce, mental health issues, job loss and suicide are just some of the effects this addiction can have.”

The Northern Ireland Gambling Prevalence Survey suggests that the number of people gambling online has more than doubled since 2010. This after about 75% of the respondents to the survey said that they believe that gambling is dangerous to family life. The proportion of ‘problem gamblers’ in Northern Ireland is more than double that of Wales, three times that of Scotland and almost five times higher than in England.

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“Northern Ireland has proportionally the highest problem-gambling prevalence within the UK.” DfC Permanent Secretary Tracy Meharg acknowledged that the industry is an “important employer” and responsible gambling is enjoyed by many. “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. A new submission made by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to a public consultation regarding gambling regulation in Northern Ireland revealed that up to 40,000 people in the country may be facing a gambling problem. For the time being, Northern Ireland is considered to have the highest occurrence of gambling addiction in the UK. Well, according to data published on February 28 by the country’s health research board, there are at least 40,000 problem gamblers in Ireland. This represents just 0.8 percent of the population and contrasts the 2.3 percent figure that was recently posted by researchers from Northern Ireland.

Mark said, “Online gambling can be particularly devastating to those who struggle with addiction because it is so readily accessible.” He went on to say that there needs to be a one-stop self-exclusion tool to stop people from having to individually contact each provider. That way they can manage their gambling behaviour more effectively.

What Happens When You Are A ‘Problem Gambler’?

Problem Gambling In Northern Ireland

A Belfast taxi driver shared his experiences, saying that he lied, cheated, and stole whenever he got the opportunity in order to place a bet. He said, “Some of the stuff I have done is horrendous. I would have took out a log-book loan on my car behind my wife’s back, I’d have done credit union money in, I’d have done bank money in. I borrowed money from people I hadn’t seen in 30 or 40 years, spinning them all the lies of the day just to have a bet. It’s the worst addiction because with drink and drugs there is only so much you take, but gambling is in your face 365 days a year.” At one point, he stole £600 from his daughter’s credit card. “It turns you into someone you don’t want to be,” he explained.

He tried going to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting and lasted for a week. The next time he went he lasted for ten months. Only after he had hit rock bottom did he return in January 2014 and is now 3 years and 3 months into recovery. He describes this time of his life the best yet.

What Do You Do When You Realise That You Have A Gambling Addiction?

Recovery Lighthouse has a care line that is staffed 24/7 by trained and experienced counsellors who are ready, willing, and able to answer your questions. Once you decide that you want help, we will gladly explain your options to you and guide you through the process of getting the help that you need. If necessary, we will arrange for you to be admitted to our rehab clinic immediately. Alternatively, you can opt for outpatient treatment where you live at home and only come to the clinic for therapy sessions and counselling.


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We follow a 12-step process that was designed by Alcoholics Anonymous and is very effective in treating addiction. We also offer cognitive behavioural therapy, art therapy, holistic therapy, group therapy, and a fitness programme. All our therapy activities are designed to help you to learn to express yourself in a healthy way. We also teach you how to confront the issues that you’re trying to avoid and to resolve them in a safe and secure environment. Another part of the therapy is to teach you new life skills and coping mechanisms with which you can manage your recovery and your life without gambling. You will also receive individual counselling sessions that will help you talk through your problems and challenges.

Once you’ve completed your treatment programme, we will also offer you aftercare, which will help you stay gambling free. Our staff is available day and night and you can phone us at any time if you need any help.

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There are several risks attached to gambling addiction, so the sooner you get help, the better. Give us a call today!

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Well, according to data published on February 28 by the country’s health research board, there are at least 40,000 problem gamblers in Ireland. This represents just 0.8 percent of the population and contrasts the 2.3 percent figure that was recently posted by researchers from Northern Ireland. The contradictions between these to two separate findings have been very controversial, to say the least with the opposition saying that the data published by the government is “flawed” and can therefore not be used as an accurate basis for the formation of any policies.

“Is the government honestly saying that the problem gambling rate in Dundalk is 0.8%, but the problem gambling rate in Newry is 2.3%? … The south of Ireland has the highest online gambling losses in the world per capita and the third highest gambling losses overall per capita and Fine Gael want us to believe it is not a problem,” Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly said

The government has since responded by decreeing that there will be further research within the next 12 months – this will greatly assist and guide its understanding of the issues pertaining to gambling in the country. Still, one thing that both the opposition and the government can agree on is the fact that a significant portion of the country’s population is involved in some form of gambling and this means that there is a need for regulatory and consumer protection measures.

Underage Gambling

Perhaps an even more pressing issue is the fact a worrying number of the people who have access to gambling services are underage. As it turns out, about a tenth of all 15-17-year-olds in the country have access to some form of gambling services with the most common ones being lottery ticket and scratch card gambling. This means that about 1 out of 10 the underage people within the specified age brackets have participated in some form of horse-racing or dog-racing betting in the recent past.

Surprisingly, these underage gamblers seem to be making these bets from the forbidden land-based gambling service providers – it is, apparently, more challenging for them to access the same services on the plethora of online gambling sites around. As interesting as the fact that online gambling regulation in Ireland ins more robust than land-based gaming regulation may be, it goes without saying that this a problem that needs to be solved and the relevant authorities are going to need a considerable amount of help to ensure that viable solutions are arrived at.

The Irish National Lottery has already issued a statement acknowledging the findings. The organization has further affirmed its willingness to cooperate with authorities to curb the issue.