Sociology Success in HEA ‘Shared Island’ research programme

Tuesday, June 7, 2022 - 13:45

Prof. Aphra Kerr and Prof. John O’Brennan, of the Department of Sociology at Maynooth University, have received €196,962 funding to work with Dr. Paul Kitchin of Ulster University on the YouGaMSI project: Fair Play? Assessing the exposure of young people to gambling marketing through sport on the island of Ireland. Dr. Paul Kitchin is Head of the School of Sport at the Jordanstown campus of the University of Ulster.
This ground-breaking project will be the first of its kind on the island of Ireland and will compare the exposure of youth and young adults (14-17 years and 18-24 years) to gambling marketing through live sports in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will assess the extent of such marketing on traditional broadcast and online media, determine how such marketing targets young people, and work with partner charities to develop educational resources to raise awareness of the range of harms that gambling can lead to. It will also contribute to the evidence base and policy discussions currently ongoing in Stormont and Dublin in relation to updating gambling regulatory regimes in both jurisdictions.
Speaking about the announcement Prof. Kerr said ‘Fans in Ireland and Northern Ireland both access live sports on broadcast and digital media but some sports broadcasts, such as football and horseracing, carry significant levels of gambling marketing. In the past few years this has increased. This funding will enable us to gather important data about the prevalence and content of gambling marketing through sport across media, and the impacts of this on young people and on the integrity of sport. Importantly it will also enable us to work collaboratively with Dr. Kitchin and our outreach partners to understand the socio-cultural factors leading to the contrasting levels of problem gambling that exist on both sides of the border, and to develop culturally appropriate educational resources to raise awareness about the social impacts of gambling.’
The project will work with Extern Problem Gambling and Gambling with Lives, two charities working with communities across the island of Ireland.  Each charity has witnessed the exponential rise of gambling across all ages but particularly in young people.  This project seeks to boost their capacity to develop educational programmes about sport, marketing and gambling-related harm that are locally relevant.
The YouGAMSI project has been funded by the North-South Research Programme, a collaborative research scheme funded by the Government’s Shared Ireland Fund and administered by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.  Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, announced 62 awards totalling €37.3 on the 02/03 under the first funding call from the North-South Research Programme. A full list of the funded projects can be found here  and includes one other MU project.
Kerr and O’Brennan received seed funding of €3,000 from the Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute in 2020 to work on the project ‘Problem Gambling on the island of Ireland – towards a comparative approach.’ This enabled them to work with a research assistant to prepare the proposal and conduct further data gathering.  
Kerr and O’Brennan have previously worked on research for the Department of Justice in 2021, evaluating financial data on the Irish Gambling Market and reviewing International Approaches to Gambling Taxes and Social Levies. They also made a submission to the All-Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling in Stormont, Northern Ireland in late 2020. Kitchin, together with Dr Damian Gallagher, Dr Kyle Paradis and Ms Erin McEvoy made a submission to the All-Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling in Stormont, Northern Ireland in December 2019.
The YouGaMSI project will officially start in Sept 2022 and run for two years. It will hire two postdoctoral researchers for 12 months each. The first hire will be based in the University of Ulster and the second will be based in Maynooth University.
Further Information  
Prof Aphra Kerr -
Prof. John O’Brennan -
Dr. Kitchin -
Gambling with Lives –
Extern Problem Gambling -
Full government press release -
Shared island initiative -