Irish teenagers are losing “vast amounts of money” through online gambling 2 weeks ago

Irish teenagers are losing “vast amounts of money” through online gambling

A growing problem.

An addiction expert is warning that Irish children as young as 15-years-old are losing “vast amounts of money” through online gambling, and the problem is apparently growing.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast earlier this week, professor Colin O’Gara from St John Of Gods Hospital had a warning for parents across the country, and said the issue of children and online gambling has grown significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.

The addiction psychiatrist explained they are seeing more and more young people and children present at the hospital with gambling addiction.

“It is a significant problem and we are seeing young people – 15 and probably even younger – that are accessing online sites in this country without any problem and losing vast amounts of money,” O'Gara said.

“These are the cases that have presented with us unfortunately and these people are also subject to a lot of mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety and, in some cases, self-harm. We are seeing at the moment in the UK, there is a lot of progress being made in regard to regulation and in Ireland, we are waiting for the past ten years in essence.”

The professor warns that there is effectively "no regulation” in Ireland in relation to this, and warned that there is now a “very strong and compelling argument” to bring forward some legislation urgently.

“You have young people who can go online and lose vast amounts of money,” he said.

“There are no responsible gambling initiatives at all being brought in in Ireland – such as mandatory deposit limits, age verification or a credit card ban like there was in the UK. So, there is a lot of stuff there that could be brought in and needs to be brought in and I think the most tangible way of doing that would be to bring in an office for gambling control.”

Few seek help

A major problem as O'Gara sees it, is that we are not open enough as a society about gambling addiction and encourage people who are struggling to ask for help.

“Very few people come forward for gambling treatment,” he said. “The international literature would suggest that only one-in-ten people who suffer a severe gambling disorder will come for treatment. The reasons for that are quite diverse but I think the main one would be stigma – nobody wants to be associated with a gambling problem because it has huge issues financially and for employment.”