The Irish Department of Health published a report that stated 10% of all children age 15 to 17 in the Republic of Ireland gamble at least once in a year’s time. The study led the National Lottery to change the way it handles age verification processes.
The most popular forms of gambling for underage Irish are lottery tickets and scratch cards, as well as betting on horse racing and dog racing. Scratch games are the most popular form of gambling for children in Ireland.
The survey stated that almost one-in-ten Irish teenagers aged 15 to 17 (pictured) had bought a lottery ticket or a scratch card in the past year. 12% of boys aged 15 to 17 bought a lottery ticket or a scratch card over that time.
Another 9.4% had placed a pari-mutuel wager on either a horse race or a dog race over the same period of time. 15% of boys aged 15 to 17 bet on horses or dogs.
Tim Miller on Protecting Children
Last year, the Gambling Commission released a report that said only 19% of underage children said their parents set strict standards or limits on gambling. That was an alarming figure for many Irish gaming experts to hear.
Tim Miller, Executive Director at the Gambling Commission, said at the time, “Protecting children from the harms that can come from gambling remains one of our highest priorities. In the areas we have regulatory control, we continue to strengthen the protections in place to prevent underage gambling, such as our recent proposals for enhanced age verifications checks for online gambling.”
National Lottery on Underage Gambling
After reading the 2019 report, officials at the National Lottery said it is taking steps to make their age verification processes and technology more effective. The National Lottery plans to appoint a “retail compliance manager”.
The new policies includes age control messaging on point-of-sale equipment in retailers throughout the country. It also includes “own audit” verification.
A spokeswoman for Ireland’s National Lottery said, “All of our retailers are contractually obliged not to sell National Lottery games to under 18s and must commit to our Sales Code of Practice to ask for age verification if in any doubt.”
Gambling Age 55 to 64
Irish residents aged 55 to 64 are the people most likely to gamble. Almost 50% of those surveyed claimed they had wagered in the past year.
As one might expect, online gambling is most popular among the younger generation. Among the age group 18 to 34, about one-in-twenty residents said they had gambled online in the past year.
The survey shows that online gambling still lags significantly behind lottery betting and racing bets.
Heavy Betting on Lottery, Racebook Bets
Lottery betting and racebook bets continue to account for a large proportion of “heavy betting”. A full 11% of those who wager on lottery tickets, scratch cards, horse bets, or dog bets spent at least €250 a year on their pasttime.
While heavy betting does not equate to problem gambling, it shows a dedicated amount of activity which goes towards gambling. The €250 amount still represents less than €5 a week on gambling, which is sustainable for almost all Irish gamblers.
How to Stop Irish Underage Gambling
The Department of Health itself did not give recommendations for stopping underage gaming. Instead, it left those decisions to the gaming authorites such as the National Lottery and the Gambling Commission.
Tim Miller of the Gambling Commission said the Irish government cannot alone combat underage gambling. Instead, Miller called for public-private-parent coordination to stop teen gambling.
Miller said, “Regulation alone cannot address all of the risks that young people may face from gambling. Our latest research shows that the most common forms of gambling by children do not happen in gambling premises. Some of these are legal, such as bets between friends; some of these are unlawful, such as gambling on machines in pubs. But all of them present risks to young people as there is no form of gambling that is risk-free.”
“It is therefore vital that all those with a part to play in protecting children and young people — parents, businesses, and regulators — work together.”