Gambling and its Social Impact in Ireland

(PIs: Dr. Aphra Kerr and Prof. John O’Brennan)

The project “Gambling and its Social Impact in Ireland” is conducted by Dr. Aphra Kerr, Prof. John O’ Brennan and Dr. Lucia Vazquez Mendoza, based within the Department of Sociology at Maynooth University and members of Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute (MUSSI). This is a one-year project to examine the knowledge base and evidence on gambling and its social impact in Ireland. The overall aim of the project is to understand gambling as an industry, leisure activity and a contemporary social behaviour and identify and collate data on the negative impacts of gambling behaviour and responses to it by a range of actors.

Gambling is increasingly prevalent in Ireland. The global and national gambling industry is growing in revenue every year and expanding from traditional forms like horse racing and dog tracks into less visible types, including casinos and online gambling. One factor that has contributed to the growth of the industry has been online gambling, especially on smartphones.

The impacts of gambling are both visible and invisible. Gambling activities may have adverse health, social and financial repercussions, and it impacts individuals, families, communities and Irish society more generally. The figures released by the Department of Health in 2019 show that many people in Ireland engage in various forms of gambling and highlights the need for regulation and protective measures. Work is currently underway to implement The Gaming and Lotteries Amendment Bill 2019 and to establish an Irish gambling regulatory authority.

The first stage of the project has involved desk research examining the international knowledge base on gambling, including data on the gambling industry, gambling prevalence and gambling harms, and putting emerging trends in Ireland into a global perspective. Our team has identified key gaps in the available evidence and the need for further research to inform the gambling policy responses required to respond effectively to the negative impacts of gambling.

The second stage of the project is ongoing and involves field research. It focuses on understanding the social impacts of gambling from different perspectives and mapping the range of responses by industry, health and other services providers in Ireland. An additional focus is the impact of Covid-19 on gambling behaviour, gamblers and the availability of supports.

This project has received research funding from the Gambling Awareness Trust, an independent charity based in Ireland.

Contact Dr. Lucia Vazquez Mendoza