As a nation we gambled an estimated €9.8bn this year or an estimated €379.51 per head of population.
According to the latest statistics, we spent €4.7bn in casinos, at bingo and on gaming machines. We also spent €4.3bn on horseracing and other sports betting.
H2 Gambling Capital’s November 2019 report says we spent €808m on lottery draws and scratch cards. The annual spend, which amounts to about €379.51 per head, makes Ireland the seventh highest gambling country in the world.
The figure is also not just up considerably on last year’s €8bn spend, but also shows the amount that we are spending has been steadily climbing since 2014.
The total amount of money spent in that year by punters on regulated gambling was €6.9bn.
The latest figures also show gamblers are now losing at least around €1.3bn, up from €1.1bn last year and €1bn in 2014.
Barry Grant CEO and Founder, Problem Gambling Ireland described the figures as “absolutely shocking”.
“The fact that casino, bingo and gaming machine gambling is actually bigger than sports betting in Ireland is extremely worrying, when considering that gaming machine gambling is the most addictive form.”
He said he believed many people will be surprised to find that casino, bingo and gaming sectors are bigger than sports betting.
“It is clear from the new figures that the gambling industry are making a fortune from the Irish public,” he said. Mr Grant said most of the money gambled online is spent by a very small number of people. A recent UK survey for example found 78% of revenue from online gambling came from 4% of customers.
“As a nation, we are developing an increasingly dysfunctional relationship with gambling.
“The fact that we, as a nation, are happy to donate €1.3bn to the gambling industry in a year, while the Government provides no funding for gambling addiction services, is extremely saddening. Much of that €1.3bn is coming out of the household budgets of vulnerable people, and having a severely detrimental impact on the individual who gambles, as well as their dependents and loved ones.”
Millions of what is gambled every year is stolen money and the amounts each addict gambler steals varies.
Of a sample of seven gambling addicts found guilty of theft in the last few years, they stole a total of €4.4 million between them.The amounts varied from around €12,000-a-year to around €583,00-a-year.Of the seven, one of them stole €75,000-a-year for two years and another stole €160,000-a-year for three years.
A government study has claimed that there are an estimated 30,000 people aged 15 and over with gambling problems in Ireland.
Many organisations, including Problem Gambling Ireland, believe this figure to be an under-estimation.
However, it says if the figure is correct, that would mean roughly 6,000 people steal to fund their gambling, in Ireland. This is because it is estimated that of the group of people with a gambling problem, around 20% will steal to fund that problem.
Cabinet has approved plans to set a new €500 limit as a maximum payout from gaming machines and to set a maximum stake of €5. The maximum payout is 50c, while the maximum bet is 3c.
Although the new proposed maximum stake is half of what was originally proposed by the Government, it is still higher than other jurisdictions.
And there still remains the risk that with modern digital slot machines, you can actually have up to 50 pay-out lines on your screen at any given time that you can bet on. And with each spin being made every six seconds, there are fears Ireland could end up in a situation where, if legislation isn’t written correctly, people could be gambling €250 per spin every six seconds.
The proposed changes are part of the Government’s plan to update the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956 as limits have not been changed since then.