GAMBLING with Lives, a charity set up by families bereaved by gambling-related suicides, has launched a ground-breaking new youth education programme in Northern Ireland.

The launch event at Stormont on Tuesday, September 28, was sponsored by Robbie Butler MLA and co-sponsored by Paula Bradley MLA and Philip McGuigan MLA.

Pete and Sadie Keogh, from Enniskillen, who are part of the charity, were at the launch. Their son, Lewis, took his life after becoming addicted to gambling.

Pete was very happy with how the day went and also the coverage it garnered across the world, which shows that problem gambling is a global issue.

“It was a very moving day but it was also so worthwhile,” said Pete. “It’s a powerful international piece about the real dangers of addiction to gambling.”

Pete said there were 141 pieces of news coverage about the launch, in English, German, French and Spanish, and it was also broadcast in Namibia.

“It shows gambling is a global issue. We’ve had so much interest from the South as well, it’s incredible.

“The problem of gambling doesn’t stop at Belturbet. We are hoping we will do it in Northern Ireland first, then the rest of Ireland.”

The programme, which is aimed at preventing gambling harm in young people, will be piloted at schools in Northern Ireland and England before being rolled out across the UK.

Created by experts on gambling harm, academics, teachers, award-winning filmmakers and people with lived experience of gambling harm, the programme aims to influence the way gambling awareness education is delivered to young people and address the lack of information and help currently available – something that leads to lives being lost each year.

It is based on solid, published research about education and awareness-raising across other products such as drugs, tobacco and alcohol and covers basics about gambling, including understanding odds, risk and the “house edge”.

But, crucially, it also focuses on how addictive products work, and the methods and impact of industry marketing, which sets it apart from programmes delivered by industry-funded charities.

Northern Ireland has a higher rate of gambling disorder than any other UK region, with up to 2.3 per cent of the adult population addicted to gambling.

Across the whole of the UK, there are thought to be 250–650 gambling-related suicides each year, with people addicted to gambling up to 15 times more like to take their own lives than members of the general population.


The Stormont launch is very timely, being held while the Assembly considers the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Amendment) Bill – the first significant reform of gambling legislation in Northern Ireland in more than 35 years.

Speaking at the event on Tuesday, Sadie said: “Children are taught about the dangers of alcohol, drugs and smoking; they are told about road safety and sexual predators, but no-one tells them about the gambling industry and its most dangerous products, or the harm that they can so easily inflict.

“Appropriate gambling education could save many lives every year in Northern Ireland, where we have high levels of gambling disorder, and the relevant treatment is difficult to access when compared with drug and alcohol addiction.”

Pete said this programme is “long overdue” and with a pilot scheme being run this year to fine-tune the programme, he is hopeful that every school in Northern Ireland will have it available to them by next September.

But while he hailed this as another step in raising awareness, Pete also wanted to encourage people in Fermanagh who are struggling with gambling to come forward and seek help.

“I know there are young and old gamblers in our part of the world, but they are so reticent about coming forward, but if you don’t get treatment for it you won’t get cured,” added Pete.