Survey Shows One in 10 Children in Ireland Are Gambling Underage

Child playing poker

30-second summary:

  • 10% of Irish children engage in underage gambling
  • 15% of boys have bet on horse or dog races
  • One in 10 15 to 17-year-olds have bought a lottery ticket in the last year
  • 12% of boys have purchased a scratchcard or lottery ticket

A survey has found that one in 10 children in Ireland are underage gamblers. Additional steps are being put into place to ensure players’ ages are verified.

Underage gambling

The study was conducted by the Irish Department of Health, reports The Irish Times. It found that one in 10 children aged between 15 and 17 had purchased a lottery ticket or scratchcard in the past year. A further 9.4% indicated they had placed a bet on a horse or dog race.

When it comes to gender, 15% of boys aged 15 to 17 were found to have bet on horse or dog races, and 12% had bought a scratch card or lottery ticket. The report did not highlight the percentage for girls who are gambling underage, if such a number were applicable.

The findings from the Department of Health follow a similar survey conducted by the National Lottery last month, which discovered that four out of 10 retailer shops were selling scratchcards to underage people.

A spokesperson for the 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.”

As a result of the findings, additional steps are, reportedly, being put into place to ensure players’ ages are verified.

A report from early February showed that new data suggested Ireland had the third highest gambling losses in the world, per person. This was ahead of America, but behind Australia and Singapore.

Sinn Féin politician Louise O’Reilly, responded that it was no longer a case of ignoring Ireland’s gambling problems. She said: “Despite what anyone will tell you, we are in the grip of a problem gambling crisis.”

What else did the survey show?

The data also revealed that four in 10 people consider themselves as regular gamblers. Scratchcards are seen as the most common form of gambling, with 57% of people buying them in the past year. One in three indicated that they purchase scratchcards each month.

Notably, online and phone gambling was popular among the younger generation. One in 20 of those aged between 18 and 34 years of age noted that they gamble in this way. Yet, it was the older generation who are considered more likely to gamble. Around half of those between the ages of 55-64 reported that they gambled on a monthly basis.

Stopping before it’s too late

For those who had lost out, rather than cutting their losses, the survey found that 5% of men and 2% of women reported they had chased their losses in the last 12 months.

Lottery tickets and scratchcards accounted for where most of the gambling was going, with 11% of people stating they had spent more than €250 (£214; $285) a year on them. Additionally, 26% said they bought lottery tickets or scratchcards on a weekly basis, whereas 31% placed their bets in betting shops each week.

Catherine Byrne, minister of state at the Department of Health, said: “The statistics show that many people in Ireland engage in various forms of gambling without any issue arising.”

However, she added that for the people where gambling had become a problem, steps needed to be taken to limit the impact it was having on them and their families.