Published: 09 February 2022

Gambling in the Republic of Ireland: Results from the 2019–20 National Drug and Alcohol Survey

This report presents the findings from the 2019–20 National Drug and Alcohol Survey (NDAS) on the prevalence of gambling and problem gambling in the general population in Ireland. While the main objective of the 2019–20 NDAS was to determine the prevalence and patterns of drug use (including alcohol and tobacco use), a set of questions on gambling in Ireland was included in the survey at the request of the Department of Justice. The NDAS is the only source of general population prevalence data on gambling in Ireland. The 2019–20 NDAS collected information from 5,762 people aged 15 years and over across Ireland. The main findings in relation to tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use from the 2019–20 NDAS were published in 2021 . The aim of this bulletin is to present the findings from the 2019–20 NDAS in relation to gambling

Key findings

Type of gambling

Almost half (49%) of people aged 15+ say they gambled in the twelve-months prior to the survey. Buying a lottery ticket or scratch card in person (four-in-ten people) was the most common type of gambling, with a further one-in-ten gambling in a bookmaker’s shop and less than one in ten placing a bet on horse or dog racing.

There is a notable decrease in gambling since the previous survey, from 65% of adults in 2014/15 to 49% of adults in 2019/20, with the sharpest decrease observed in the purchasing of lottery tickets or scratch cards, down from 57% in 2014/15 to 42% in 2019/20.

The gambling activities associated with the highest spend were placing a bet at a horse or dog race, gambling online/ by phone, or in a bookmakers

Nine-in-ten who had gambled in a bookmaker’s shop or online, placed a bet on a sports event.

When lottery activities are excluded, men are more likely than women to gamble

Problem gambling

The survey measured three problem gambler types:Low-risk – those experiencing a low level of problems; Moderate risk – those experiencing a moderate level of problems; and Problem – those who gamble with negative consequences and a possible loss of control.

2.3% (90,000 adults) are low-risk gamblers, 0.9% (35,000 adults) are moderate-risk gamblers, and 0.3% (12,000 adults) are problem gamblers

Men are five times more likely than women to be an at-risk or problem gambler. This is most common among males aged 25–34, with one-in-ten meeting the criteria for at-risk or problem gambling.

Problem gambling is associated with living in a deprived area and being unemployed.

There is a marked correlation between problem gambling and substance use (drug use, alcohol use disorder, smoking); 13% of people with an alcohol use disorder are an at-risk or problem gambler compared with 2% of low-risk drinkers.


  • Deirdre Mongan
  • Sean Millar
  • Anne Doyle
  • Shelly Chakraborty
  • Brian Galvin

Publication (PDF, 437 KB)

Publication (PDF, 437 KB)

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