Problem Gambling

Did you know that over €5 billion each year is gambled in Ireland – that’s €10,000 every minute! In this blog, we will be focusing on the issue of problem gambling. Problem gambling is an ever-growing concern here in Ireland, with a recent study estimating over 40,000 problem gamblers in the country. A problem gambler is a person who will need some degree of help or treatment to solve their gambling problems, whether that be a little help or a lot of help.

Despite the unsettling numbers of problem gamblers in Ireland, the Irish governments spend on problem gambling treatment and prevention between 1997 to 2018 was zero, even with the government receiving €873.9 million in revenue from betting duty between 1997 to 2015.


Here at Tabor Group, we provide a range of treatment for problem gamblers each year. In 2020, there was a 75% increase in the numbers of clients citing gambling as their main reason for seeking treatment with us in comparison to 2019. The specific kind of treatment we offer clients depends on the outcome of our assessment processes which can range from mild to moderate to severe. Where the problem is ‘mild’, education and information might be sufficient for the individual to manage the problem. Where the problem is ‘moderate’, counselling, or structured day treatment programmes may be required. Finally, where the problem is assessed to be ‘severe’, our Tabor Group residential treatment programme will be recommended.


At this point, it is important to emphasise that not all gambling is problem gambling. Indeed, most gambling does not lead to any problems and is a recreational activity enjoyed by the vast majority who take part. Playing bingo or buying lottery tickets and scratch cards is ordinarily a harmless activity. It gives us a little boost of adrenaline as we scratch the card or wait with anticipation hoping for our numbers to appear, wondering if we will be a winner. If we get close to a jackpot win, we begin to fantasise about the end of all our problems and an escape from the tedium of daily life for ourselves and those we love. This is harmless fun for most of us.


There is also a significant difference between gambling problems and problem gambling. There can be problems resulting from gambling, often financial, where more money has been lost than the person could afford to lose. This creates problems for the person as they don’t have the money for other necessary expenses, but this does not necessarily make an individual a problem gambler.

Problem gambling refers to the way a person is gambling. Perhaps they spend hours in a casino, at the racetrack or on online gambling sites. The amount of time is excessive and unquestionably more that a person would normally spend at gambling activities at one time.

Another example of problem gambling is when an individual really believes that their ‘luck is in’ and it is prudent to bet all their money on a horse or dog or team that they have a ‘good feeling’ about. Such beliefs may lead to mounting and recurring financial losses. However, with problem gamblers, this does not change the individual’s belief.


There are several behaviours which may indicate a person is a problem gambler. A problem gambler will regularly tell lies to cover up for gambling losses or to entice another person to loan them money to fund another gambling episode. Similarly, a person may justify stealing money or even property from family, friends, workplace or elsewhere in order to fund their gambling. A problem gambler may even take out a bank loan as a means of funding their gambling in an effort to recoup previous losses.

While gambling is closely tied up with the winning or the losing of money, it is important to keep sight of the fact that the problem gambling is to do with the activity of gambling itself. The act of gambling is powerfully mood altering for the problem gambler. This mood alteration becomes more and more central to the gambler’s lifestyle, like an addiction. Whether the person gambles or not is out of their control. Thoughts of gambling becomes an obsessive preoccupation, and the act of gambling becomes compulsive.

It gets to a stage where gambling decisions are completely irrational. The gambling is not linked to whether the person can afford to gamble or not, or whether there is any basis for believing that they stand a good chance of winning money. Often with a problem gambler, judgement is clouded and there is no basis to justify the activity, the money involved, the chances of winning or the consequences of losing.

Inevitably, problems result and can mount up for the individual. However, despite these problems, it does not stop them from gambling. They are in the grip of the activity and are not free to let go of it. They are compelled strongly to go gambling and cannot stop. At this point, with the amount and variety of problems, the key is for the individual to get help and get treatment for their problem gambling. This interrupts the problem gambling dynamic and gives them the opportunity to reflect on their activities and learn about gambling and ways to manage problem gambling.


If you or a loved one is caught in the grip of problem gambling call Tabor Group today to discuss treatment options at 021 4887110 or visit our website www.taborgroup.ie. Seek help and take the initiative. You don’t need to go through this alone. There are thousands of others out there who are in the same situation. Give us a call at Tabor Group and we will guide you through the various options for treatment. With decades of experience in dealing with gambling addiction, you will be in safe and confidential hands.


Tabor Group provides residential & community-based addiction treatment programmes to men and woman over 18 years of age, who are struggling with addiction to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, get help today. We can help you recover in a healthy, friendly environment and beat your addiction. Do not hesitate to contact one of our counsellors today for information by calling +353 (21) 488 7710 for Cork or +353 (1) 639 2962 for Dublin, or alternatively you can email us at info@taborgroup.ie. We can help you.