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The Economic and Social Research Institute has advised the new Irish gambling regulator to make problem gambling a priority.

As preparations continue for the launch of Ireland’s gambling regulator by autumn, new research warns that it should prioritise measures on problem gambling. The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has concluded that problem gambling in Ireland “could be larger than initial estimates”.

It conducted a study with the aim of providing evidence-based research to inform debate and decision-making on the launch of Ireland’s new regulator, New research from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) said the issue should be a main priority during the creation of a new regulatory body, the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI).

Estimates have suggested that around 12,000 people have issues with problem gambling in Ireland – around 0.3% of the population. Some 35,000 (0.9%) are estimated to be “at risk”. But ESRI suggests that these are likely to be underestimates due to biases in the survey design and response.

Its own research identified a strong societal burden of harm from problem gambling and found that young men from disadvantaged backgrounds were at the greatest risk along with those with other addictions. Frequent players were also more at risk, and the report identifies gambling advertising and complex bets as causes of increased gambling activity.

The report identified gaps in research to be addressed, including the underestimation of problem gambling prevalence, limited survey evidence on public attitudes towards gambling and a lack of understanding of the impact of marketing techniques.

It said: “Policy would benefit from behavioural audits of marketing techniques used in Ireland.”

Anne Marie Caulfield, CEO Designate of the GRAI, said: “We need to know the extent of the issue and how it is impacting people’s lives. We have commissioned the ESRI to conduct a second study focused on measuring the extent of problem gambling.”

She said GRAI would make raising awareness of problem gambling and providing treatment and support services a “critical function”.


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