The risk of problematic gaming behavior is particularly high with online gambling. The number of online gamblers is likely to have increased again in recent months due to COVID-19. 16 cantons and the Principality of Liechtenstein are therefore launching a campaign with the message “Gambling can make you dependent. Also online” a sensitization campaign. The pandemic has hit some countries like Spain really hard, but it could also be a chance to focus on new technology as you can read here.
When because of COVID-19 the Casinos were temporarily closed and also other play offers were limited available, the advertising offensive for the new on-line offers was noticeably increased temporally. As international studies let assume, thereby also many new gambling end might have entered into on-line gambling.
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The fairy tale of a dream life
Ending online gambling shows an above-average risk of problematic gaming behaviour. The reasons are obvious: The offers are permanently available, the reference to real money is lost and social control is missing. A new analysis by GREA (Groupement romand des addictions) and Sucht Schweiz shows that an above-average number of younger people, people with a low income or a lower educational level show problematic gaming behavior. Nadia Rimann, program manager of games without addiction, explains: “They are particularly susceptible to the lure of fast and big winnings – and advertising appeals to them specifically. But we also know that gambling addiction occurs in all social groups”.
Problematic gamblers pay half of all stakes
Certain types of gambling are particularly risky: gamblers from online casinos, sports betting and financial market betting show an above-average risk. In lotteries and scratch cards, the percentage of problematic gamblers is significantly lower. However, since they are very widespread, their number should not be underestimated. It is noteworthy that the 10 percent or so who play problematically pay half of the total stakes of all players. In Switzerland, around 192,000 people show such problematic gaming behavior.
A small proportion of them are considered to be gambling addicts – with often devastating consequences: In addition to gambling debts and physical and psychological complaints, a gambling addiction often has serious consequences for family or professional life.
Example: free games: Supported by digitization
The financial problem is not limited to online gambling. For example, the market for “free-to-play” video games on smartphones is growing rapidly. In “pay-to-win” games, a certain form of free-to-play games, for example, gambling advantages can be acquired through purchases. Nadia Rimann sees many parallels in this development: “Our research shows that, regardless of the market, the mechanisms of the games lead to similar behavior.
It is therefore not surprising that even in the case of free games, a small proportion of gamblers are responsible for a large share of the cake: according to the study, around 10% of gamblers are responsible for over 60% of spending.
Campaign on gambling addiction
Also in order to react to the developments around COVID-19, the intercantonal program “Gambling without addiction” on behalf of 16 German-speaking Swiss cantons and the Principality of Liechtenstein is today launching an awareness campaign focusing on online gambling. Martina Gadient, Head of the Addiction Department of the Canton of St. Gallen: “Many gamblers show that they first came into contact with gambling services at a young age. For effective prevention, we therefore also want to consciously address a younger audience”.