An Cosantóir

Dec 2018 Jan 2019

An Cosantóir the official magazine of the Irish Defence Forces and Reserve Defence Forces.

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An Cosantóir Dec 2018/Jan 2019 30 | BY MIRIAM SPELMAN, ANSAC CREDIT UNION Another day, an- other loan application refused on the grounds of "problem gambling." "Hello this is James from ANSAC Credit Union. I'm ringing to let you know that unfortunately you've failed our loans stress test and that we won't be able to issue you with a loan." The typical response to which is a resigned sigh. Bank statements littered with payments to Bet365 or Paddy Power to name a few, have to admit they're a bad bet. "As a cooperative financial institution, it's our members' savings that we're lending to other members. And we cannot, as a respon- sible organisation, be reckless as to lend to someone presenting with a compulsive gambling habit. And we certainly don't want to enable a vulnerable member to sink themselves into debt." Says Gillian Dunne, CEO of ANSAC Credit Union. A bit of flutter is ok: It's not the individuals who bet €15 each week that ANSAC have to habitually refuse for loans. It's those who have developed self-destructive habits frittering away a significant portion of their wages. While research indicates that "problem gambling" doesn't discriminate across social classes or age groups - ANSAC shares that more often than not, it's young males, who are mortgage free, living in their parent's home who they have to refuse loans due to the amount they're gambling each month. "For example we had a young loan applicant who was spend- ing 87% of his wages on online gambling." Says Gillian. "And while those within addiction support services describe gambling as the 'hidden addiction' its something you can't conceal when it comes to looking for credit whether applying for a mortgage, credit card or car loan." How to find out the impact on your credit rating: ANSAC ad- vises that anyone concerned about the knock-on effects gambling has on their credit rating, can visit the Irish Credit Bureau website, and order their credit report for a nominal amount to see what information prospective lenders can access about their credit history. A county wide epidemic: And it's not only at ANSAC where the extent of gambling in Ireland can be felt. The Irish Institute of Public Health estimated that 40,000 people in Ireland had a gambling problem in 2010, a figure it now believes to have grown to double that. Fur ther research by The Economist Magazine who calcu- lated the per capita gambling loses by country, indicated that Ireland ranks third in the world, and first when it comes to online gambling. A situa- tion which is thought to be exasperated by our comparatively 'light touch' legislation. PSS echo ANSAC's concern: These figures were of little surprise to the handful of Defence Force Personnel Support Services (PSS) who were consulted by ANSAC on the topic. While they reported a thankful decline in those seeking support from PSS for alcohol addiction over the past decade, they do note a concerning rise in those in crisis due to debts accumulated through online gambling. "Access has been a huge thing." observes, one member of the PSS, who prefers to go unnamed for fear that that it may af- fect his/her approachability. "Most of the people who come to PSS needing support wouldn't know what to do inside a physical betting shop. They've been sucked into the heavily marketed 24/7 culture that exists thanks to the proliferation of internet gambling and betting apps." Paddy Power was the first to launch a betting App on the Apple Store in Ireland in 2010, with others quickly following suit. The 'Problem Gambling Ireland' website claims that Irish residents gamble a staggering €10,000 every minute of every day. 1 "You can literally be live streaming a match these days and be targeted with pop up messages for quick bets, for example 'who'll score next'." Another PSS staff member told us, "It can be very dif- ficult for those struggling with this disease to avoid triggers thanks to all the digital marketing they're bombarded with." Supports for Defence Force Personnel: According to a Gam- bleAware report in 2011, fewer than 1% of people who at the time would have benefitted from problem gambling treatment actually received it. A figure which is alarming when considered against the backdrop of the statistic that 1 in 5 pathological gam- blers attempt suicide, more than double the rate among those who suffer other addictions. 2 Those who acknowledge they need help themselves, or are seeking advice in relation to another individual, can contact their local Personnel Support Service at any time where they can get access to their trained, non-judgemental addiction counsellors in complete confidence. "While you might feel you're unable to stop, or don't want to admit how bad things have gotten, gambling is a highly treatable condition." Advise the two PSS staff consulted. "We encourage anyone who may have been affected by this article to look for professional help be it through PSS or through a reputable exter- nal organisation." ALTERNATIVELY, THOSE PREFERRING SUPPORT FROM OUTSIDE THE DEFENCE FORCES, CAN CONSULT THE FOLLOWING RESOURCES: Gamblers Anonymous (GA): Addiction Counsellors of Ireland: Problem Gambling Ireland: The Not So Hidden Addiction 1 Figure sourced from on 23/10/18. 2 Figure sourced from International Journal of High Risk Behaviours and Addiction

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