Hands shaking, eyes darting from one TV screen to the next, Barry Curran had to decide quickly which race to bet on. Within seconds of the horses’ taking off, he shoved his bet- a crumpled €10- under the window and stood back in anticipation.
On a good day Curran can make €200 to €300 and on a bad he can lose as much or more. For the unemployed gambler, this addiction has become his career.
On a recent weekday afternoon, Curran and five of his friends gather in front of the screens, bickering over which horse to bet on and how much to lie down on the race. Each of the young men is unemployed.
“This is an addiction and a love,” Curran explained.
In The Liberties, persons on the Live Register, statistics on the Central Statistics Office, under the age of 25 went from 99,613 in Nov. 2012 to 100,324 in Dec. 2012. One in four Irish people under 25 are searching for a job.
The unemployment rate for young people is 30 percent for those aged 18-to-24. Adolescent gambling is also thought to be 2-to-3 times the rate of adults.
“We have noticed an increase in unemployed persons gambling being admitted to our centre,” said Tabor Lodge Addiction Treatment Centre Clinical Director Mick Devine.
The Centre assists those who are battling drug and alcohol addictions but also gambling addictions.
“Many addicts are seduced by the possibility of successfully gambling and solving their economic problems,” Devine said. “The gambling is what is causing the addiction and the issues in their lives.”
A brother company to the Irish Paddy Power bookmaker is Ladbrokes. Down the street from Curran in the Paddy Power, is an elderly man placing bets under the Ladbrokes window.
Patrick Boyle’s fingers have yellowed with age and years of smoking. He slowly took a drag from his cigarette and smiled.
The 49-year-old unemployed resident of The Liberties is a regular at Ladbrokes on Thomas Street. The four men inside betting at the window cheered as he walked in.
“Patrick, back again mate,” asked a man sitting on a stool in the back.
Boyle gambles at Ladbrokes three or four times a week, hoping for some fast money. Living on two pensions, Boyle hardly has enough to scrape by.
As the Wolverhampton race ended with Polar Kite finishing six-to-one, Boyle jumps from his stool and cheers, “That’s a hundred and sixty-six!”
“This was a good day,” Boyle said looking at the €166 in his hands.
Just as he arrived, swiftly with a mission to win some pocket money, Boyle placed his winnings in the worn-down blazer pocket he was wearing and walked to the door.
“Till next time,” Boyle said.
His ripped sweat pants with paint stains vanished from sight as he walked down Thomas Street back home.
According to the Central Statistics Office, the current unemployment rate in Ireland is 14.6 percent.
There are almost 90 bookies in Dublin according to the Golden Pages online; of those there are six in The Liberties area.
- Bookmakers see three-cardinal race to be next Pope (timesofmalta.com)
- Government refuses to take action on gambling games as addictive as ‘crack cocaine’ (telegraph.co.uk)