By Darren Frehill
Advances in modern technology means it's never been easier to gamble and nowadays you can bet on almost anything, including organised school and juvenile competitions.
Ireland's outdated gambling legislation means that bookmakers are operating within the law to have markets on the said competitions.
An inter-county Gaelic footballer has admitted betting against his own team in a National League game after being gripped by a crippling gambling addiction when he was a teenager
The player, who wishes to remain anonymous, was on the bench for the game in question and described to RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland how he felt enormous shame after backing his team to lose.
It turned out to be a turning point for the player as it prompted him to address his addiction, and he is now desperate to highlight a problem he believes is endemic in the GAA.
"I gambled on a National League game. I bet against our team and it came in. It was a shameful thing to do," he said.
"At the time I was happy. I wasn't playing, I was a substitute, so I had no real bearing on the game as it turned out. But looking back there's people with a long-standing history in the county and people pumping in so much energy and supporters travelling and people doing a lot of fundraising.
"For me to go and target a game like that to bet on, against our own team, it was the height of disrespect. I would be quite shameful of that act. It was something I really wanted to turn around and make right and get myself into a better position in life to be free of all of this pain."
In 2014 the GAA and GPA announced guidelines on gambling for club and inter-county players, and the wider GAA community, as they acknowledged it was a growing problem.
“There are two major areas of concern for the GPA - the rise in gambling addiction and the potential for match-fixing or spot-fixing down the line," GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell said at the time.
“While the numbers suffering with addiction are still relatively small, they are rising.”
The anonymous player insisted the culture of gambling is "quite rampant" within dressing rooms across the country, and outlined how deeply his own issues affected even his training schedule.
"I think [gambling] is quite rampant [in the GAA]," he went on. "You only have to step into any dressing room in any club or county team to see guys discussing it on team buses, in dressing rooms and meetings; checking their phones, seeing what games are on at the weekends, talking about the odds.
"There was one particular time I did a bet on a couple of soccer games and I had training at the same time as when the games were on. It was before mobile phones had proper data and I brought my computer with me to training in my car.
"During training I went over to check the scores in the games. It was only later on after that I realised how bad it had got. I'd skip an injury or let on I was going to the toilet just to go and check the scores.
"Something has to be done. People don't realise the long-lasting effects it can have."
This player has come forward to highlight the fact that adolescents are being exposed to gambling through these school and juvenile betting markets.
The institute of Public Health has concerns about adolescents exposure to gambling. Paddy Power maintain that their juvenile markets in Gaelic Games, rugby and soccer are influenced by public demand and they have no evidence to suggest that markets are linked to underage gambling.
The department of Justice and Equality have commissioned studies, have engaged in consultations and have even made recommendations for a new gambling Bill. Despite it been on the agenda since 2009 there's been little in the way of real change to the law. As things stand, the current legislation needs to protect the young and the vulnerable.
For more information on gambling issues, visit GambleAware.ie.