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Monday, January 17, 2022

In the trap of the game – ludomania

Gambling mania threatens the psychological health of the Russian nation. What to do about it explains the Internet portal “Rossiyskaya Gazeta”.

The desire to become rich overnight without education, work and self-development draws many people into gambling, and this phenomenon has received a special name – gambling. And modern information technologies contribute to comfortable participation in gambling – to place a bet in a bookmaker’s office, on a sweepstakes, to spend a lot of money on lottery tickets – today is as easy as shelling pears. Unfortunately, for many people, such hobbies develop into a pathological addiction – gambling addiction, emphasizes activist and entrepreneur Dmitry Davydov in his project “20 Ideas for the Development of Russia.”

Back in 2017, the World Health Organization pointed to the epidemic nature of gambling addiction, citing figures: in the world 350 million people a year suffer from problem gambling, the prevalence of the disease reaches 5.8 percent. WHO stressed the need to develop a strategy for the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction.

The problem of dependence on gambling has not bypassed our country either, but so far it has not received proper attention, writes the author of the project, published on the 20idei.ru portal. First of all, you need to realize that this is not a bad habit or an easy flaw. In fact, gambling addiction is a disease, the essence of which is the loss of control over the game due to developing disorders of the emotional-volitional sphere. Sometimes, for the emergence of a persistent addiction, it is enough to play any gambling game for just a few hours in a row. Gambling leads to conflicts in the family, divorce, violence, pushes people to crime, and sometimes to suicide. No one is immune from it: the US National Gambling Association notes that any inhabitant of the planet has a 48 percent chance of becoming a gambling addict. For comparison, the likelihood of becoming an alcoholic is estimated at 34 percent, and a criminal offender – at 6 percent. Such a person needs help – and not only relatives, but also a psychologist, and often – a psychiatrist.

Unfortunately, in our country there are still no organizations that specialize in preventive and consulting assistance to gamblers, whose experience can be very useful, Dmitry Davydov notes. These are, for example, GamCare, BeGambleAware, Gambling Therapy in the UK, Responsible Gambling Council in Canada and South Africa, Gamling Help Online in Australia, National Council on Problem Gambling in the USA, Problem Gambling Foundation in New Zealand. We also do not have sites dedicated to the prevention of gambling addiction, informational and advisory support for players who want to get rid of addiction. And as a rule, Russians turn to psychiatrists only as a last resort, and often for many this is not available due to material problems caused by uncontrolled play.

Dmitry Davydov gives several examples of countries that can be used to study successful experience. Thus, the government of Singapore in 2005 created the National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPG), giving it the authority to control gambling operators. The Council works closely with the Ministry of Society and Family Development and consists of 17 influential experts in various fields: psychiatry, psychology, social rehabilitation, counseling and jurisprudence.

In South Korea and Finland, organizations working to combat problem gambling are funded by gambling operators. Thus, the national corporation “Korea Problem Gambling Center” annually issues invoices to all gambling business entities in the country. In Finland, the national gambling operator Veikkaus is responsible for funding the Peluuri organization, which has provided free support to all problem gamblers since 2004.

In recent years, Russia has made a huge step in the control of the gambling business by establishing the Unified Gambling Regulator (ERAI), the author of the “20 Ideas” project notes. Unified betting accounting allows introducing self-exclusion mechanisms, making it possible to establish a ban on accepting bets from persons who have registered their desire to withdraw from gambling. But, as the experience of many countries shows, this measure is not enough. In order to significantly reduce the negative consequences of gambling, it is necessary to take preventive measures, promoting the principles of “responsible gambling”, as well as to make available psychological support to gamblers and their families.

Dmitry Davydov proposes to oblige gambling operators to provide financial assistance to charitable organizations and private companies that conduct:

– scientific research in the field of prevention and treatment of gambling addiction;

– preventive educational and educational activities about the dangers of betting enthusiasm and the promotion of the principles of “responsible gambling” among active and potential players;

– Advisory assistance to players and their loved ones who have encountered problem gambling (helpline, support chat, sessions with a psychologist, coaching, etc.);

– complex therapy of pathologically dependent players.

According to Davydov, in order to receive financial assistance, organizations must pass an audit of the gambling business regulator and meet clear criteria: have at least one year of experience in one or more of the activities indicated above; have no ties with gambling operators, their representatives and employees; comply with the requirements of the regulator – for example, to guarantee the targeted use of the funds received and the provision of reporting.

A similar practice has been introduced by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), one of the most experienced and reputable government regulators of the gambling business in the world.

The implementation of the activist’s proposals will allow, in his opinion, to create new jobs in charitable organizations and private companies, and entrepreneurs working in the social sphere will receive support. At the same time, the state budget will not incur any expenses.

In our country, a federal law approved a program of extra-budgetary support for the development of sports at the expense of funds from the gambling business (sweepstakes, lotteries, etc.). But if in the same way we approve the support of organizations that purposefully deal with the problem of the negative consequences of gambling, then hundreds of thousands of Russians caught in the trap of gambling will also be able to receive qualified advisory support or discounts on treatment and recovery in specialized clinics, Dmitry Davydov is sure. The population, and especially young people, will be informed about the dangers of this hobby and ways of self-control.

The formation of systemic support at the legislative level will have a positive impact on the well-being of the nation as a whole. The author of the project hopes that the current government will pay attention to his initiatives and support them at the legislative level.

Photo: Arthur Lebedev / RIA Novosti

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