France previously battled some 200,000 gambling addicts, but the numbers have gone to 340,000 according to the latest data. Although the United Kingdom has posted a steady and unchanged number of problem gamblers, new technology is making it possible to home in on individuals who have avoided detection for years.
Ireland Needs to Take a Harder Look at Problem Gambling Numbers
Something similar is happening in Ireland according to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) which has reached the worrying conclusion that the real number of problem gamblers could in fact be larger than what was previously thought.
The research comes at a time when Ireland is preparing to introduce a new regulatory framework and specifically a new industry watchdog which will arrive in the third quarter of the year. Once it does, it will be tasked with supervising the entire gambling landscape.
According to the ESRI, no time must be wasted right now, with the forthcoming Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI), and the people involved in its establishment, focusing on consumer protection measures above all else.
ESRI has put forward its research data suggesting that the 12,000 that are presently listed as problem gamblers, but another 35,000 are at-risk of taking things too far, may not be the accurate numbers of the issue. GRAI CEO designate Anne Marie Caulfield said:
We need to know the extent of the issue and how it is impacting people’s lives. We have commissioned the ESRI to conduct a second study focused on measuring the extent of problem gambling.
GRAI CEO designate Anne Marie Caulfield
The researchers have said that the way the information has been gathered did not factor in the societal stigma and reluctance of respondents to confess to having a problem with gambling, which may have left many people who actually struggle with addiction undetected.
ESRI argues that there are significant areas where improvement can be made. Those areas have to do with how problem gambling numbers are collated, a better understanding of public attitudes towards gambling, and how different marketing techniques impact consumers. To address that, there should be behavioral audits of marketing techniques, for example.
Tackling problem gambling is the crux of regulatory debate in the United Kingdom with a proposed White Paper by the government now in the process of consultation and seeking to enact swift and meaningful changes that focus on the consumer.