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Spain: Gambling Problems

Gambling and young people should be strictly separated from each other. While adults are usually good at assessing the risks and opportunities of gambling, this is often not the case with children and young people. This can have serious consequences. Apparently, these consequences are now being felt in Spain. According to a study by the Spanish Federation of Ex-gamblers (FEJAR) and the Association of Madrid Psychologists, there is a clear problem with gambling among Spanish youngsters. Around every fifth young person is said to be affected.

Ein Spielautomat.

In Spain in recent years, venues have often been opened in poorer areas and near schools. This has led to an increase in the number of problem gamblers among young people.(©Unsplash)

Leader in a European comparison?

In Spain, this is just the beginning published study caused a stir. No wonder: after all, it is stated here that one in five Spanish young people suffers from a gambling problem. This would in turn mean that the Spanish young people are the young people with thehighest proportion of problem gamblers in a European comparison. The fact that gambling as a popular leisure activity has shifted completely to a younger group of people is particularly striking. Until a few years ago, Spaniards between the ages of 35 and 45 were particularly noticeable. Meanwhile, themost players can be found in the group of 18 to 25 year olds.

The study also provides reasons for this questionable increase. For example, children and young people would be influenced by theadvertising measures of the industry. These would also be seen on television when children and young people watched programs or sporting events. In addition, the study revealed that in the last three yearsmore than 40 venues have opened in poorer neighborhoods and in close proximity to schools. This, too, has ensured that young people and children accept gambling earlier and take it for granted.

Social networks and technologies promote gaming behavior

But not only on television or the stationary trade, the study sees certain wrong decisions in Spain. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram would also play a major role. These networks are mainly used by young people, who are at the mercy of gambling companies' advertising at any time. In addition,young people in particular would be particularly easily enticed by bonus offers or special promotions. Guillermo Ponce, as a psychiatrist who specializes in gambling addiction, sees another danger in the fact that, due to digitization, young people can access gambling offers from almost anywhere, such as onreal money slot machines in the could access the internet.A consequence: Young people are now more often affected by problematic gaming behavior than adults. "Numerous studies have already shown that problematic gaming behavior occurs at least twice as often in adolescents than in adults," explains Ponce.

The psychiatrist also stated that children and adolescents are particularly at risk because they be particularly vulnerable to rewards. In this way, a greater and more excessive tendency to gamble can also be identified. Many young people would also be able to forget or hide states of anxiety and sadness in the game. This is a particular danger,since actual problems are temporarily covered up by gambling. But: As questionable as the development among young people in Spain is, the view of the adults is more gratifying.Only four percent of the adult population gamble according to a 2019 Gambling and Society survey. In addition, only one percent of adults reported gambling regularly.

What should be changed?

Both organizations involved in the study are now calling for extensive measures in Spain to get the problem under control. One measure could therefore be that theopening of betting shops and arcades near schools will be prohibited in the future. In addition, a Madrid police officer recently called for television advertising to be restricted and regulated. In detail, I stated the man as follows:

“They show these advertisements in the morning when children's programs are broadcast and at any other time of the day. And if you then have a famous person like Cristiano Ronaldo in the ad that they admire, the effect is even greater. The worst thing that can happen to a young person is that he wins.”

The demands of citizens and critics have already been taken up in Spanish politics. A possible advertising ban was already being discussed in August, whichpossibly should generally prohibit advertising for games of chance. However, no agreement has yet been reached here, so it will take a long time before any changes finally take effect.

Young problem gamblers are difficult to identify

Spanish politics has a problem surrounding the identification of problematic young gamblers. These cannot simply be recorded, but often use their parents' credit cards for their gambling stakes, for example.Gambling in Spain is also only permitted from the age of 18, but it is very difficult to check compliance with the rules, at least in the digital area. In the stationary sector, on the other hand, young people are only allowed to enter a gaming facility or a betting shop if they can prove that they are of legal age. Precisely because digital games now play a major role in young children, the organizations involved in thestudy also see the parents as having a responsibility. These should monitor children's gambling activities more closely in the future and thus ensure that the desire to play does not gain the upper hand. In the future, therefore, closer cooperation between parents and organizations is apparently to be brought into being.

Spain is already doing something to get the problematic development under control in the coming years. However, it is also certain that theorganizations alone will only be able to do a little. The government has at least as much to do here. After all, only this can ultimately create the right framework for safe and transparent gambling.

The article was published on September 24th, 2019 in the cpaws-ov.org magazine with the keywords,,,, published.
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