Irish Study: Team Sports May Cause Gambling

The Irish Times reported that new research conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Higher Education Authority has shown that it is four times more probable that young males living in Ireland who have played team sports between the age of 17 and 20 engage in regular gambling than those who have not done any sports.

A Correlation Between Team Sports and Gambling Found Only for Young Males

The ESRI and Higher Education Authority researchers analyzed data collected over a long period of time for the Growing Up in Ireland study, which was conducted with a sample of over 4,500 young adults born and growing up in Ireland.

Their analysis revealed that the tendency of young adults who have played team sports to start gambling was directly related to the fact that they have done sports and did not have any connection to any other circumstances such as demographics, social and economical factors, or their professional development.
In numbers, this means that 12% of young people who played team sports at the age of 17 and 20 gamble regularly, while only 3.1% of the respondents who did not do sports at this age report that they are regular gamblers.

What is interesting though is that such a correlation has been found only for males. Young females that play team sports do not develop a tendency to gamble. 15.8% of young males of the age of 20 gamble while only 2.9% of young women do so.

At the same time, the proportion of young people who gamble increased from 2.6% when they were aged 17 to 9.2% when they were of age 20. This boost was entirely driven by males.

Other data that the research focused on was that 7.2% of all respondents aged 20 report they are regular gamblers, which means that they wager at least once a month. However, when this is divided by gender it is revealed that there is a big difference between men and women – 11.6% of 20-year-old males are regular gamblers, while only 2.7% of young females report regular gambling patterns.

Greater Insight Needed into the Connection Between Team Sports and Gambling

What the researchers found worrying was the considerable increase in the extent of availability of gambling and gambling participation. The pandemic led to the decline of in-person gambling and a considerable increase in online gambling. This leaves young people much more exposed to gambling products, which are currently widely available and very easy to access.

Therefore, the researchers are calling for further study of the correlation they found between playing team sports and gambling, particularly when it comes to advertising. Sports in general are targeted by extensive gambling advertising, which could be the reason for the discovered correlation.

The researchers also noted the need for a deeper examination of the gambling habits of young people, which could lead to a better understanding of their behavior and consequently will help educators, policymakers, and parents implement the necessary measures to educate young people on the implications resulting from gambling.

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