Whether you only put an annual bet on for the Grand National, dabble in 50p stakes when the darts are on at Christmas, or religiously bet on the football every Saturday most of us can understand the thrill of gambling. Adding that little bit of excitement, betting has become heavily associated with most mainstream sporting events. When watching a football match for example, gambling is an ever-present element from the boards around the pitch, to the players sponsored kits, or the TV advertisements.

The availability of gambling has increased exponentially with the creation of mainstream betting apps. Far from having to journey to the nearest bookmakers you can simply bet at the touch of a screen from the comfort of your own living room. This has drastically changed the landscape of betting, it has increased the frequency with which we bet, and with the rise of ‘in play betting’ it has given us a much greater number of things to gamble on. All you need is a phone, an email, and a bank card and you have the resources to bet any amount, at any time, on any thing. For the majority of people, this availability is handled responsibly, most users know their limits and when to stop. But what happens if you don’t?


In 2017 a Northern Ireland Gambling Prevalence Survey was released, to examine the trends and attitudes towards gambling in Northern Ireland. The report was based on 1,004 respondents, aged 16 or over.

When compared to other regions of the United Kingdom, the level of participation in gambling in Northern Ireland is similar to that of Scotland but is higher than the rates in England and Wales.

86.1% of respondents of the survey were ‘non-problem gamblers’ and 4.9% were ‘moderate risk gamblers’ and 2.3% were ‘problem gamblers’. Problem gamblers spend an average of £98 per day, placing up to 90 bets, according to research last year by charity Gamble Aware. Compared to other regions of the United Kingdom, the proportion of the population found to be ‘problem gamblers’ is higher in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK

The most common types of gambling in Northern Ireland are; National Lottery, scratch cards/instant win, or betting on an event/sport. The latter had the highest online engagement with 24% of participants betting online in the last 12 months.

Are you a problem gambler?

Try this questionnaire.

Never = 0 points

Sometimes= 1 point

Most of the time= 2 points

Always = 3 points

  • Do you bet more than you can afford to lose?
  • Do you need to gamble with larger amounts of money to get the same feeling?
  • Have you tried to win back money you have lost?
  • Have you borrowed money or sold anything to get money to gamble?
  • Have you wondered whether you have a problem with gambling?
  • Has your gambling caused you any health problems, including feelings of stress or anxiety?
  • Have other people criticised your betting or told you that you had a gambling problem?
  • Has your gambling caused any financial problems for you or your household?
  • Have you ever felt guilty about the way you gamble or what happens when you gamble?

If your total score is 8 or higher, you may be a problem gambler.


If you have identified that you have a problem, it is important to know that help is available. There is evidence that gambling can be successfully treated in the same way as other addictions. Cognitive behavioural therapy usually has the best results. Treatment and support groups are also available for people who want to stop gambling. We have listed some of the local services you can take advantage of here in Northern Ireland.

Dunlewey was founded in 1987 and has been providing specialist services to those experiencing gambling addiction issues ever since. Branches are located in Belfast, Lisburn, Armagh and Portadown.  They offer a free and confidential counselling and mentoring programme for those experiencing difficulties with their own, or other people’s gambling issues. Staff are professionally trained and have many years experience in the field of addiction.  The confidential services are delivered in a safe and welcoming environment. Tel: 02890 392547,  Head office: 247 Cavehill Road, Belfast BT 15 5BS, Email:admin@dunlewey.org

GamCare offers free information, support and counselling for problem gamblers in the UK. It runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and also offers face-to-face counselling.

Gamblers Anonymous UKruns local support groups that use the same 12-step approach to recovery from addiction as Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also GamAnon  support groups for friends and family affected by someone else’s gambling problem. Click to find your nearest group.

The Gordon Moody Association offers residential courses for men who have problems with gambling. It also runs the Gambling Therapy website, which offers online support to problem gamblers and their friends and family.

Being a compulsive gambler can not only harm your health and relationships but it can also leave you in serious debt. Make sure you pay important bills, such as your mortgage, before you gamble. It is important to deal with debt rather than ignoring it. Visit the National Debtline for tips.

The most important thing to understand is that gambling is an addiction and you can get help to recover. Here at MaleMenu we urge everyone to take care of themselves and others when gambling. Ask for help, give advice, share you experiences. Join or start the conversation below.