At odds with success; identifying and responding to gambling behaviour among irish undergraduate students

Wednesday, 23 November, 2022 - 10:50 to 12:20


Internationally, undergraduate students are identified as an at risk group in relation to the likelihood of engagement in problematic gambling behavior (Griffiths, Alexandre & Calado, 2017). This research aimed to address the significant gap in the evidence base with regard to the gambling behavior of Irish undergraduate students and the associated implications for educational Institutes. This particular study is based on quantitative data gathered from a cohort of 550 undergraduate students in a third level institute in Ireland. Findings are based on the administration of a recognized standardized instrument (Problem Gambling Severity Index) and responses to a small number of demographic questions. In addition to profiling gambling behavior generally and identifying particular groups who may be at specific risk of developing problematic patterns of behavior this paper analyses the range of potential responses available to educational institutions in meeting these challenges.

This study identified a cohort of students who are at risk of problem gambling behaviour, approximately 6% (n=33) of the population sample were indicated as being at risk of problem gambling behaviour. This finding is in line with other international studies of student populations. This study also identified sub groups of the student population with higher rates of participation in gambling activities. Currently within the Irish educational system there is very limited awareness of problem gambling as an issue and very limited intervention to address this issue.

Previous research has highlighted younger people, those with co-occurring problems such as other forms of addiction, mental health issues and those marginalized as a result of ethnic origin or language barriers as being more likely to develop problem gambling behaviors. On-line gambling is a relatively recent development in the gambling arena and is of particular interest to due to the emerging research indicating the potential for increased problematic gambling in this forum. This mode of gambling may impact on groups traditionally considered less likely to develop problematic gambling. The currently limited body of research available related to online gambling suggests that student groups are more likely to engage in this form of gambling. Undergraduate students are recognised as being at risk of engagement in a range of potentially detrimental behaviours such as risky sexual behaviour, higher levels of drug and alcohol consumption and exposed to related poor mental health outcomes.

Early recognition of issues related to mental health and specifically gambling can allow for population based interventions to begin addressing behaviours of concern. Whilst extensive student focused campaign's have been developed regarding issues such as substance misuse and sexual health to date the sector has been characterized by an absence of intervention to address gambling related harm.




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