Ireland is on the brink of a 'problem gambling tsunami', according to former Armagh footballer Oisín McConville.
McConville, who has spoken openly about his struggles with gambling in the past,made the comments following a new study from NUI Galway which shows a surge in smartphone gambling during the pandemic.
The research by the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics was based on a global sample of 327 people who use gambling apps on a weekly basis.
The study found half of people who bet regularly on their phones become problem gamblers.
Problem and non-problem gamblers differ in the gratifications they seek from mobile gambling, with key motivations for problem gamblers including using gambling apps to facilitate social interaction and avoid boredom.
Speaking on Newstalk today, Oisín McConville, said it's far easier to access gambling in the digital age.
“That phone is always there, it takes 30 seconds to download an app, it takes two taps to put on a bet.”
“If you can imagine 15 or 20 years ago when I gambled, I needed to get my hands on money, I needed to travel to a bookmakers, I needed to walk into that bookmakers, I needed to write out a docket, I needed to hand it to the person behind the counter.”
Lead author of the study, Dr Eoin Whelan said mobile gambling is different to traditional forms of gambling in that it attracts younger people and is more conducive to risky behaviour.
“For some highly involved mobile gamblers, it is not a harmful activity and can actually be associated with positive mood,” he noted, but for others, “it can have severe adverse effects on them and their families”
Last week, senators heard up to €10,000 a minute is spent online on gambling in Ireland and there are at least 29,000 addicts in the country.