Three-fourths of Irish gamblers claim they have either taken out a loan or sold a possession in order to make a bet. The eye-opening statistic was a part of Ireland’s first-ever national survey, published in the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine.

The survey showed that 64% of Irish bettors felt they might have a problem gambling, while 62% had wagered more than they could afford to lose. Those are stunning numbers, because the general consensus is 2% to 5% of gamblers have compulsive gambling issues.

One notable anti-gambling activist has called for the stalled Gambling Control Bill to be passed by the Irish Parliament. Colin O’Gara, Director of Addiction Services at Saint John of God Hospital in Dublin, as well as a a consultant psychiatrist, said that Irish lawmakers need to pass the Gambling Control Bill into law immediately.

208 Gamblers Surveyed

The journal’s report noted that 208 gamblers were studied over a 7-month period. The study covered 11 categories of activity in order to track their gaming habits, reactions, and compulsive behavior.

Factors included the time spent gambling, the amount of online and mobile gambling done, the financial consequences of their gambling, and the mental health consequences of such activity.

Irish Sports Betting

The most popular form of gambling in Ireland was sports betting, with 29.8% of the respondents saying betting on sporting events was their favorite pastime. When asked what their usual reason for ending a gaming session was, the response was “Had Something Else to Do” 67.3% of the time.

When asked why they gambled, 84.6% of the respondents said “To win money”. When asked what emotion they felt most when gambling, 60.6% of survey takers said “Excitement”. The adrenaline rush of gambling is why many problem gamblers say they continue gaming beyond their means, so the study dovetails with previous research done in other countries.

Mobile Gambling Usage

Mobile gambling is now the dominant form of betting among Irish players. A full 68.8% said they used a mobile gambling app mainly to enjoy betting. That leaves less than a third of respondents who said they used a desktop computer or played live.

Only 3 years ago, it was reported that 40% of gamblers used mobile devices for online gambling. The remaining 60% used desktop computers for online gaming. Most reports in the years since suggested a 50/50 split between desktop and mobile gaming, though experts have estimated for years the number would be 60% mobile by the year 2020.

Skewed Gambling Addiction Statistics?

The low number of participants in the survey might throw the findings into doubt. Pew Research suggests that accurate polling is done with samples of 1000 to 2000 respondents. With 1500 people surveyed, Pew is able to conduct a poll with a margin of error of plus/minus 2.9%. If someone has a sample of 2000 polled, then the margin of error (to sample the entire United States) is 1%.

Survey analysts say accuracy is determined by the size of the demographic (population) surveyed, the tolerance for sampling error, the segmentation analysis desired, and the degree of variance in responses. The statistical breakdown for a poll with 200 to 250 respondents shows wild variance, to the point that few pollsters would sample a group as small as 208.

Irish Problem Gambling Study

Even a wild deviation of 20% — which is shown to be the variance when one uses 200-250 people sampled — still produces an alarming rate of problem gambling. When the convention wisdom suggest 5% at most and the sample produces 40% to 50%, that is shocking.

The sample of people being polled. In the United States, the Rasmussen Reports polls typically skew towards the Republican Party, much more than more traditional polls like Gallup or Pew. Rasmussen calls people on landlines, while the other polls mix landlines and cellphone calls. Because the demographic that uses landlines tend to be older — and because older voters tend to vote Republican — the Rasmussen polls are several percentage points different, as a general rule.

Irish Gambling Q&A: Too Subjective or Open-Ended?

Good researchers like the researchers for the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine would either account for such factors, or make sure to avoid skewed samples. Another way one might find discrepancies in results is how questions are asked. Pollsters long have noted that the way a question is asked can skew results. For example, the Irish problem gambling study interpreted “wagered more than they could afford” and “feel” they might have a gambling problem as signs of problem gambling.

Both questions are based on subjective feelings or impressions. Perhaps Irish gamblers pay more attention to their bankroll, so any losses are considered “more than they could afford”. Maybe Irishmen tend to be more pessimistic or self-critical than peers in other countries, so they might ruminate on being problem gamblers more. Even the question about borrowing money to make a bet requires only one instant in an entire life, no matter how small the loan might be. Perhaps a person asks a friend or loved one for $5, because they don’t want to walk 100 feet to the ATM machine that minute.

Whatever the case, Colin O’Gara and others who want stricter Irish gambling laws have a strong argument in their favor. The Irish Gambling Control Bill is likely to receive significant consideration by lawmakers in 2018.

About the Author
April Bergman avatar
April Bergman

April Bergman was a longtime news blogger for BOC. She wrote gaming news posts from January 2013 until September 2018. April also wrote slot reviews, strategy articles, and online casino reviews for the site.

April Bergman began in the online gaming industry in August 2010. From 2010 to 2013, she managed evergreen content for several top online casino. Her duties included developing and maintaining multiple websites in the gaming space. When not writing about online gambling, April loves horse racing, travel, photography, and gardening. She's began in the business as a devoted poker players and spent several years as a card game editor on the now-defunct DMOZ. These days, she lives with her husband and two children in the Toronto metropolitan area.

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April Bergman was a longtime news blogger for BOC. She wrote gaming news posts from January 2013 until September 2018. April also wrote slot reviews, strategy articles, and online casino reviews for the site.

April Bergman began in the online gaming industry in August 2010. From 2010 to 2013, she managed evergreen content for several top online casino. Her duties included developing and maintaining multiple websites in the gaming space. When not writing about online gambling, April loves horse racing, travel, photography, and gardening. She's began in the business as a devoted poker players and spent several years as a card game editor on the now-defunct DMOZ. These days, she lives with her husband and two children in the Toronto metropolitan area.

READ MORE
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