I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to return to college last year (2022) and I have just received my certificate from University College Cork in Continuing Professional Development in Responding to Problem Gambling. It’s been a few years since I was in college so I have to say I was a bit apprehensive to do the course but excited also. I just love learning!

Why a course in Problem Gambling?

Over the last few years, I have seen an increase in people seeking support around their gambling and felt the training would support my work. The pandemic has impacted people’s gambling: how they gamble, how often they gamble and how much with many people developing gambling problems during this period.

It is now much easier to place a bet with the explosion of online gambling. Paddy Power, reported a 30% increase in revenue in the third quarter of 2020 (during the pandemic) due to online betting(1) With people spending more and more time online, persistent marketing depicting gambling as fun and normal, gambling has now become part of our social outlet.

But with increased gambling comes increased problems as a result. The Department of Health estimates that there is approximately 40,000 people in Ireland experiencing problems due to their gambling(2) It’s important to acknowledge that not everyone who gambles will have issues with it and many people have the odd flutter without problems.

So, what constitutes problem gambling?

While losing money is the most obvious issue due to problem gambling it isn’t the only harm that someone can experience due to gambling. The desire to win and chase losses can cause financial strain leading the person to gamble more than they planned. For the problem gambler, there are many more indicators.

Signs Your Gambling is a Problem

  • Being preoccupied with gambling
  • Planning how to get money to gamble
  • Gambling with increasing amounts of money
  • Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling
  • Feeling irritable when you try to cut down or can’t gamble.
  • Gambling to escape problems.
  • Gambling to relieve or manage feelings
  • Chasing losses to win back money.
  • Lying to family and friends about your gambling.
  • Stealing or fraud to get money to gamble.
  • Loss of relationships/education/work opportunities because of gambling.

When To Get Support

If you are recognising some of the above symptoms in yourself now is the time to seek support. Or maybe a friend or family member has expressed concern, if so, it might be time to reach out to a support service.

Unlike recreational gamblers who will stop when losing, people with a compulsive gambling problem will keep gambling despite all the negative consequences. The good news is that with support many people recover and go on the live their life gambling free.


  1. Kerr A, & O’Brennan, J, & Mendoza, L (2021) Gambling Trends, Harms and Responses: Ireland in an International Context. Dublin: Maynooth University Ireland
  2. Department of Health. (2019) Prevalence of Drug Use and Gambling in Ireland and Drug use in Northern Ireland 2014/2015 Drug Prevalence Survey: Gambling Results. Dublin: Department of Health.