Betting companies in the Republic of Ireland have been criticised for drawing children into gambling by taking bets on video games.
Paddy Power allows gambling on games such as Counter-Strike and Overwatch, which pitch teams of players against one another in an online ‘battle’.
Competitive video gaming is one of the fastest growing markets for gambling.
Psychotherapist Eoin Murphy slammed video game betting for “exposing teenagers to gambling at too young an age”.
He said that teenagers were using their parents’ credit cards to start online accounts.
Chief Executive of Problem Gambling Ireland, Barry Grant, believes that these bets have blurred the line between online gambling and playing games.
“It’s a perfect fit for the gambling industry really, people who like to spend a lot of time in front of their screens are the perfect candidates for spending their money on gambling”, he added.
Irish people spent more money per person on online gambling than any other country in the world, and collectively lost over €1 billion online in 2016.
Last year in England and Wales, a Gambling Commission report found that around 450,000 children between the ages of 11 and 15 gambled in a week. Of those, it is thought that 9,000 are problem gamblers.
The ‘Young People and Gambling’ report, published in November, found that 16 per cent of children of this age had gambled in the week prior to the survey and six per cent had gambled online using their parents’ money.
It also found that three quarters of 11 to 15-year-olds have seen gambling adverts on television, nearly two thirds have seen them on social media, and nine per cent follow gambling companies on social media.