With multiple private National Lottery operators opening an average of 50 new establishments every single month for the last couple of years, experts are viewing the situation as a precursor for a surge in problem gambling in Ireland. Ever since a Canada-regulated consortium was provided the franchisee of National Lottery back in 2014, there has been a reported increase of nearly 50% in the number of authorized retailers selling scratch cards and draw tickets for Lotto. The reported rise in the number of retailers shows a jump to 5790 in the current situation from 3,700 in 2014.
The PLI or Premier Lotteries Ireland is currently owned and operated by a pension fund based out of Toronto, with the erstwhile state operator An Post holding a minority stake in it. According to a report published by a local media house, the company is mulling over a proposition of adding a new set of over 320 retailers to its existing comprehensive network of National Lottery within the next two years.
However, the chief executive officer at a charitable organization called Problem Gambling Ireland, and an addiction counselor, Barry Grant, has expressed his views on the proposed expansion majorly targeting the rural areas by saying that it could actually have a negative effect on the population of the country.
Barry said that while lottery ticket draws fall on the far end of the risk factor scale of gambling, the scratch cards bring with them an instant gratification factor which makes them quite similar to the hardcore casino gaming on slot machines. He further added that the scratch cards are far more addictive and harmful as compared to traditional lottery draws with a majority of the purchases for the former falling under the category of impulse buying. And making scratch cards available throughout the country would only promote the habit of impulse buying.
As such, scratch cards could end up becoming a major factor that can make the issue of problem gambling more prevalent across the country. Recalling his experience with his counseling clients in the past, Grant remarked that he has met a huge number of people who were struggling with the problem of spending hundreds of dollars every week only on scratch cards! With more and more people buying scratch cards with money they cannot afford, personal debts are also on an all-time rise.