The Gambling Gene

Reality Bites Reality Bites

RTÉ Two, Monday 28 January 2013, 9.30pm

Ireland is in the middle of a gambling explosion. Online betting is leading the way - with the market here worth a staggering ¤2bn a year. So do the Irish - uniquely in Europe - have a gambling gene?

Journalist Joe O' Shea is not primed with the gambling gene but he is intrigued.

In The Gambling Gene, a one hour documentary for RTÉ TWO's Reality Bites strand, he makes a journey into the heart of a betting nation.

We have always been a race of risk-takers - from the man in the bookies studying the form to the high-rolling speculators and bankers who bet big and lost everything during the boom.

But when and how did gambling come so spectacularly out of the backstreets and into the mainstream? And with smartphones and gambling apps now putting a bookies in everybody's pocket - are we in the middle of one, long losing streak?

Joe sneaks behind the scenes at Paddy Power's Clonskeagh headquarters to reveal the secrets of success at one of Ireland's most profitable companies.

He goes racing in Clonmel with fellow journalist Declan Lynch, whose book 'Free Money' catalogues the temptations and threats of online gambling.

He then tries his luck against some of Europe's leading poker players in an international tournament.

He journeys to the dark side of betting with Oisín McConville, one of GAA's most successful players of all time, who at the height of his fame fought a chronic gambling addiction.

He meets with academic Dylan Evans who has studied and published work on 'risk intelligence' and he picks the brains of Lynn Scarfe from TCD's Science Gallery, who explains the complex neurological processes at play in the mind of a gambler.

Finally, he meets with one of the world's most famous risk takers.

Nick Leeson gained worldwide infamy when as an employee, he broke Barings Bank in 1995 with his reckless trading. Now living in Galway, Nick is in a unique position to assess Ireland's irresistible urge to take risks and the ways in which this has penetrated our public and private lives.


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