Recovering gambling addict Davy Glennon admits a day hasn’t gone by during the lockdown when he hasn’t considered betting.
The Galway hurler is glad to say he hasn’t experienced a relapse but he knows how much the current crisis is affecting those with addiction through his own experiences and being contacted by people with similar difficulties on social media.
But with his new business venture, Tigh Darby pub in Loughrea, closed since mid-March and the lack of social interaction, he concedes punting is never far from his thoughts.
“I’m vulnerable all of the time,” says the Mullagh man. “When you have nothing else to do or you’re told to stay at home your mind is on overdrive. With no work and that, straight away you’re thinking, ‘How can I make a handy buck?
“It does creep into my head. There would be days when I’d be considering it because my business is closed at the moment. I’d be lying if I said as a compulsive gambler that there isn’t a day when you say, ‘Jesus, will I…?’ and you kind of have to slap yourself in the face and say, ‘cop on. Look at where you were and how low you had been.’
But it’s so easy to think like that because you don’t have as much to occupy yourself and it’s a trap you fall into.
“There’s a lot of people out there who have spare time on their hands and they’re looking at things online and it’s so easy to back online with the touch of a button that I’m sure it’s a massive thing at the moment.
“There’s only so much exercising you can do and everything else before you come back to those thoughts. Social media gets to you too. Negative or positive, that can play on you too.
“I was listening to Oisín McConville on radio one of the days saying that with people having time on their hands and being at home betting is a bigger issue and I’m getting messages all of the time from people from around the country who can relate to what I went through and they’d be nearly crying out for help. There’s some stories that would shock you.
“Some people are in different circumstances to others, some don’t have work or know what’s going to happen with work when things starting to open up again. They’re having a few bets in the morning then going again because they have nothing else to do. They’re on their phone and they’re doing more than what they were before all this.”
Opening a pub mightn’t seem like the most suitable business initiative for an addict but Glennon has taken precautions. While he has an At The Races subscription for patrons, there are no betting slips while he refused the dial-a-bet facility.
He named the premises inspired by friends who dubbed him Darby after the famous Offaly footballer fell on hard times and later opened a number of pubs. “I have to live my life and I can’t shield myself from everything,” he says. “It’s a challenge but it’s one I’m embracing.”
This week’s news that Fianna Fáil intend appointing a gambling regulator should they form part of the next Government coalition is welcomed by Glennon. Although, he is wary as there remains a gambling control bill gathering dust since 2013.
“There is so many things that could be done. I know the legislation has been on the table going back to Alan Shatter’s time but I suppose with the Government and Revenue there’s a certain amount of money that gambling is generating but there should be some sort of a cap on what a person can spend in a day.
“If somebody is winning, it’s very easy to keep an eye on them and close their account if they’re winning too much but does the same apply when they’re losing too much? There isn’t.
“Advertising should be limited too. With GAA as such, you look at bookmakers and they’re using the images of players for first goalscorers and it might be attracting not alone that person or a family member of theirs or a friend who knows he’s going to be playing to make such a bet on them.”
Like McConville, the 29-year-old was disappointed that a virtual Grand National went ahead last month and bets were taken on it. “In the absence of things being called off, they’ve fake racing to draw people in. The real stuff isn’t enough.”
He is also concerned that gamblers will now look towards more obscure markets like the Bundesliga, which resumes this weekend, and esports to get their fix. “If you know there is something going to be on, you will look at it as an opportunity to bet.”