Two-thirds of the population gambled in the last 12 months, according to the first set of data published on the extent of gambling in Ireland.

Lottery tickets and scratch cards were the most common form of gambling, according to the data.

The data has been published by two Ministers for State, Catherine Byrne and David Stanton, and it will be used to provide a baseline to assist in policy formation by the Government.

The survey was carried out between August 2014 and August 2015, and involved 7,005 respondents.

A further survey is currently being undertaken and the initial results are due within the next 12 months.

According to the survey, 56.7% of people reported buying a lottery ticket or scratch card in the past year, with 35.4% of people doing so on a monthly basis.

Almost one in ten 15-17 year olds had bought a lottery ticket or scratch card in the last year, while 9.4% of that age group had placed a bet at a horse or dog racing meeting.

The age group most likely to report gambling was those between 55 and 64 (72.4%), followed by 35-44 year olds (70.5%) and 45-54 year olds (69.4%).

People aged between 25 and 34 were most likely to gamble online or by telephone (5.7%), followed by those between 18 and 34 (4.8%).

Problem gambling is most common in young men, with 2.9% prevalence in men aged 25-34 and 1.9% in men aged 18-24.

For the purposes of the survey, the following activities constituted gambling:

  • Buying a lottery ticket or scratch card,
  • playing lottery games online,
  • gambling in a bookmaker’s shop, gambling online or by telephone,
  • placing a bet at a horse or dog race meeting,
  • playing games at a casino, playing a gaming/slot machine,
  • playing card games for money with friends/family, and
  • playing bingo.

Minister Stanton is to bring a report to Government shortly from a working group that has been reviewing the Gambling Control Bill.

He said this report will address "the issues of introducing a modern licensing approach to all gambling activities, including advertising, establishing an independent regulatory authority, and enhancing protection of consumers and vulnerable persons.

"The figures released today show that a high proportion of the population is involved to some extent in gambling and highlights the need for regulation and protective measures," he said.

"The modernisation of our gambling legislation and the better regulation of the gambling industry is a priority for Government," he added.