We need to highlight the dangers of gambling for young people

Apart from my grandmother having ‘a flutter’ on what she called ‘the gee-gees’ once a year during the Grand National (something I’ve always disagreed with due to my concerns regarding horse welfare), I can safely say, hand on heart, thankfully) I’ve never been around gambling or gamblers; nor have I ever gambled myself.

I am involved in a Lotto syndicate with TNR South Roscommon, a wonderful locally-run cat welfare charity whereby a portion of all members’ monthly subscriptions goes towards subsidising food and vet care for feral, orphaned and abandoned cats in our community. The rest gets placed on the Lotto by a fantastic volunteer. So far we haven’t had a big win! However, as everyone who contributes is an animal welfare advocate, it’s safe to say we’re all in it for the kitties, and, if we do ever win big, it’ll be a bonus, and I’ll be writing this column from my villa in a country with no extradition treaty agreement with Ireland! But I digress.

You’ll notice I use the adverb ‘thankfully’ when I say I haven’t been around gamblers. This is because I’m extremely grateful for the simple reason, when out of control, gambling becomes a form of addiction (like alcohol and drug abuse), and those whose lives have become enslaved to it, also become blighted by it. Therefore, given recent reports have revealed there’s an ‘estimated 3,500 15 and 16 year olds engaged in problem gambling’ across this country, it’s clear that the Joint Committee of Justice’s recommended ban on advertising by ‘betting companies’ before 9 pm is not just necessary, it’s very much overdue – because those statistics are concerning.

It’s not my intention to vilify everyone who engages in gambling because I believe that many people see this activity as being a harmless bit of fun, entertainment and a form of relaxation; and, when it’s controlled and limits are set and stuck to, I’m sure it is.

I’m also sure that those who do gamble love the rush of the win…but, do they know when to quit when they’re losing? Or, do they, like a lot of gamblers, risk their livelihoods, their relationships, and the roof over their heads because, although they may have started small, (perhaps using the app on their phone), they can now no longer resist rolling that dice, spinning that wheel or playing those cards? If this is the case, then we not only need an advertising ban, we also need an education and awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of gambling for young people.

If I was asked to sum up a gambling addiction in just one sentence, my answer would be that it’s like a damp patch on your bathroom wall which leads to mould…you can fight it, but, unless you seek professional intervention to tackle it, it’s possible you may never beat it!

Look folks, I’m no saint. I have faced temptation from time to time, and, like anyone else, I love the idea of having a bit of fun; therefore I do understand  the adrenaline rush experienced by those who engage in gambling as a controlled form of activity. What I don’t get is the adrenaline ‘addiction’, the poor impulse control, and the fact that any parent (in their right mind) would callously gamble away so much money they literally leave their family short of food, clothing and shelter.

But hey, as any event that has a measurable outcome is seen as an ideal opportunity to gamble these days, punters can bet on almost anything…. sporting activities, the Eurovision, the weather; or even who’ll win the local elections. With that in mind, it’s kind of understandable (on some level), how any strapped-for-cash individual, forever clinging to the hope of netting ‘a big win’, could sadly find themselves getting suckered in.

A clever and contrived tactic employed by the gambling industry is the lure of the ‘free bet’; often promoted by some high profile personality (specifically chosen for their national appeal) who – via TV adverts – endorses the activity as being attractive, mysterious, risqué, and sexy. Pulled in by the hype, sadly, the addict fails to realise that the beneficiary will never be them, rather it’ll always be the betting companies and the government (through tax) who’ll hit that jackpot. In order for its core business model to thrive, gambling is, and always will be, an activity perfectly placed to exploit the vulnerable, meaning it’ll forever rely on extracting money from the risk-taking, fiscally-stupid, poor sod cursed with the addictive nature.

For any reader seeking help/advice regarding any addiction issue, please contact your family doctor or your local primary care centre who’ll point you in the right direction.


Lisa enters the shrine of sporting greats!

Castlerea lady and history-maker Lisa – the champion of the world – O’Rourke did herself, her family and her county of Roscommon (and Ireland) proud last week when she sensationally took the gold at the IBA Women’s Boxing championships in Istanbul!

While sport (and essentially boxing) was once very much the exclusive domain of males, thanks to her amazing prowess and her achievements, Lisa – also a senior GAA player – has not just set a precedent, she’s become an inspiration for young Rossies to hit that reset button, reinvent themselves and go for gold! Comhghairdeas Lisa; you’re some woman.

Comhghairdeas as well to Dundalk lady Amy Broadhurst who also won gold.

Due to their spectacular wins, these two talented ladies have not only entered into the shrine of sporting greats, they’ve also – along with Kellie Harrington and Katie Taylor – become the only four Irish women in Irish history thus far, to have reached this world class status. What an amazing triumph for Mná na hÉireann!

I’d also like to say well done to the beautiful rural village of Cloontuskert – just down the road from me – whose community are clearly (and deservedly) in celebratory mode this week following their big win at the IPB Pride of Place awards.

According to their FB post, the locals are ‘absolutely ecstatic to have taken home the Overall All-Ireland IPB Pride of Place runner-up prize in the Housing Estates category at the Gleneagle INEC Arena, Killarney, Co. Kerry, representing the Abbey, Cloontuskert’. Fantastic! I’ve got no doubt that, in order to scoop this prestigious prize, your lovely community had to beat off some stiff competition; your efforts have certainly paid off.


If you want to sell out Dublin gigs Keith, stop singing a-crapella!

According to Boyzone’s professional mime artist, oh sorry singer, former Corrie actor slash tyre seller, and one part of so-called ‘supergroup’ Boyzlife, Keith Duffy has blamed “Irish begrudgery” as the reason himself and mediocre karaoke singer, ex-Westlifer Brian McFadden have ‘failed to sell out’ Irish performances.

I never thought modesty was one of Mr Duffy’s virtues. It certainly wasn’t whenever I encountered him during his Boyzone days. Indeed, it was my experience that, whenever I interviewed the members of the group, Mr Duffy appeared to be so vain, I half expected him to rock up with a follow spotlight on himself! Add to that, the fact himself and Mr McFadden – both of whom are my fellow North Dubs – hilariously describe  themselves on their official website as being ‘a super-group’, I’d have to opine that the duo are probably more cocky and conceited than talented. Perhaps it’s for that reason, (i.e. their inflated egos), as opposed to ‘Irish begrudgery’ that home-grown audiences don’t support them?

You see Keith love, I hate to be unkind, but, while yourself and Brian certainly possess enough boy-next-door attractiveness to make you seem special to British audiences – who apparently, can’t get enough of you –  here at home we demand value for our hard-earned money. This means being perched upon a high stool, standing up, sitting back down again to point with militarised precision as if channeling a low-budget version of Robbie Williams isn’t going to cut it. If you want to sell out local gigs lads, I’m afraid you’ll have to stop singing a-crapella, (sorry), and, er, learn to harmonise and carry a tune!