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Problem Gambling in EU Member States

As part of this study, the research team received comments and summaries of reports submitted by organizations we had approached in the information gathering phase. The following submissions are presented with the caveat that their findings need to be subject to critical analysis in a manner consistent with other research in these areas. They are presented as they were received.

AUSTRIA

One of the three landers made a comparative study of before and after these soft gaming machines were introduced. In the year 1997, they found the percentage of gambling addicts was 2.1% in the addiction hospital out of all addicts. In 1998, this estimate rose to 17.9% and in 2001 to 20%. Out of all the problem gamblers, 60% were addicted to small prize automatics gaming machines. This also encourages criminal activities, where players are determined to get money to feed their gambling addiction.

One can conclude that soft gaming machines, which have no age or entry/concession control and provide very fast games with fast replay, seem to lead to a high tendency to become a gambling addict. This lander has since treated these small prize gaming machines as the same as any other gaming industry. Their opinion was that if these machines were not properly controlled, there was a very high possibility that the rate of gambling addiction could increase rapidly.

ESTONIA

According to a study conducted in Estonia in 2004 by Consumer Protection Board, there are about 25,000 (plus or minus 10,000) gambling addicts in Estonia, which is 2,4 % (plus or minus 1%) of the Estonian population. About 1% of those pathological gamblers are under 20 years of age. In addition to that number there is also a risk group of potential pathological gamblers of 27,250 (plus or minus 10,000) people, which is 2,6 (plus or minus 1%) of the whole population.

According to the Consumer Protection Board 2004 study, pathological gamblers are most often men between the ages of 20-44 years; they can be both entrepreneurs/executive management and skilled labour. Young people between the ages of 15-19 years are most often the group at risk of becoming gamblers. There is no specific distribution of the consumers by age group in either the earlier mentioned study or in State official statistics. Divided by the social status of the gamblers or potential gamblers, the statistics are as follows:

Problem Gambling Statistics in Estonia 2004:

  • Problem Gambling >>> Pathological gamblers (%) >>> Potential pathological gamblers (%) >>> Some gambling related problems (%)
  • Entrepreneur/executive management/leading specialist >>> 4 >>> 2 >>> 7
  • Specialist, civil servant, server >>> 1 >>> 2 >>> 9
  • Skilled labour >>> 6 >>> 5 >>> 19
  • Other employees >>> 4 >>> >>> 7
  • Student >>> 2 >>> 5 >>> 12
  • Pensioner >>> 1 >>> >>> 4
  • Unemployed >>> 3 >>> 3 >>> 14

There is no special legal protection for problem gamblers, but they can seek help from Estonian not-for-profit organisations, which provide the necessary help and information in fighting this problem, such as:

  • Association of Estonian Gambling Addicts
    • Information Centre for the Casino-addicts
    • The Institute for Problem Gambling and Treatment

FINLAND

Sininauhaliitto (The Finnish Blue Ribbon) is a Christian-based central association for nearly one hundred member organisations, and they have about five thousand contacts from clients every day (homeless people, those having problems with alcohol or drugs, prisoners serving their sentence and prisoners who have newly been released from prison, gambling addicts, children and families who are at social risk). Services are provided through day centres, units of supportive residential accommodation (mainly dwellings or groups of dwellings, constructed with funding by state-subsidised ARAVA housing loan), and treatment and rehabilitation institutions. In addition, group activities, employment projects, camps etc. are provided.

The Finnish Blue Ribbon finances its operation by funding from RAY, through project financing from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Labour, education administration, Church Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is also common.

The Finnish Blue Ribbon has studied problem gambling since early 1990’s and has produced several studies of problem gambling with A-clinic Foundation. The latest study and the following pilot project started a helpline for problem gamblers and their relatives (Peluuri Helpline Project).

The Peluuri Helpline’s reports contain information and statistics concerning 700 calls. Peluuri was operating as a pilot project from 1.9.2004 to 31.5.2005. The organisation had answered 687 calls during the first nine months. That is 45% of all incoming calls and 69% answered of calls that came during the working hours, 12 am to 6 pm.

The Addiction Helpline Callers Statistics:

Callers >>> Number >>> % of all callers

– Gender

  • Men >>> 231 >>> 48 %
  • Women >>> 251 >>> 52 %
  • All >>> 482 >>> 100 %

– Type

  • Gamblers >>> 363 >>> 61 %
  • Relatives* >>> 132 >>> 22 %
  • Professionals** >>> 25 >>> 4 %
  • Other*** >>> 78 >>> 13 %
  • All >>> 597 >>> 100 %

* Relatives= relatives, parents, spouses, sons, sisters, grandparents, friends eg.
** Professionals= Professionals working in the fields of social work, health care treatment media eg.
** Other = Hoax calls, wrong number and the calls where the caller is not specified.

The Gambler’s Profile

Problem_Gambling-Finland

Detailed Gambler’s Profile:

  • Gamblers age  >>> Men, number >>> % >>> Women, number >>> % >>> All, number >>> %
  • < 15 years >>> 10 >>> 7,4 % >>> 0 >>> 0,0 % >>> 10 >>> 4,9 %
  • 15 – 17 >>> 10 >>> 7,4 % >>> 0 >>> 0,0 % >>> 10 >>> 4,9 %
  • 18 – 24 >>> 32 >>> 23,7 % >>> 9 >>> 12,7 % >>> 41 >>> 19,9 %
  • 25 – 34 >>> 33 >>> 24,4 % >>> 4 >>> 5,6 % >>> 37 >>> 18,0 %
  • 35 – 44 >>> 20 >>> 14,8 % >>> 9 >>> 12,7 % >>> 29 >>> 14,1 %
  • 45 – 54 >>> 12 >>> 8,9 % >>> 16 >>> 22,5 % >>> 28 >>> 13,6 %
  • 55 – 64 >>> 10 >>> 7,4 % >>> 22 >>> 31,0 % >>> 32 >>> 15,5 %
  • 65 -74 >>> 7 >>> 5,2 % >>> 9 >>> 12,7 % >>> 16 >>> 7,8 %
  • 74 < >>> 1 >>> 0,7 % >>> 2 >>> 2,8 % >>> 3 >>> 1,5 %
  • All, age and gender known >>> 135 >>> 100 % >>> 71 >>> 100 % >>> 206

− 23% of men and 2 % of women also needed loans to finance their gambling
o Of all gamblers that have called Peluuri Helpline 4% used illegal means to obtain money for gambling

− Almost half of women gamblers were over 55 years (47%)
o And a quarter had mentioned having mental health problem (23%)

− 59 % of women gamblers were retired
o Men were more often employed (57% M/22% W)
o Unemployment was almost equal between men and women (6,8% M/6,3% W)

− 13 % of gambler callers were or had sought outpatient or inpatient treatment because of a gambling problem

− 48% of callers were referred for treatment (outpatient or inpatient), 18% to peer groups (GA eg.)

Type of Gambling

− Of all callers/gamblers 74,5% played slot machines
o 95% of women played slot machines as primary game.
o Betting in the calls was mostly a male activity.
o Internet gamblers were all male.
o Computer/video games were mostly played by men/boys and most of them also gambled.
o Every fourth (23%) gambler said they also played other games.
• Slot machine players seem to play less other games.

Participation in Different Types of Gambling:

Problem_Gambling-Finland2

− More middle aged people gamble on slot machines
− Internet gambling is done mostly by young adult males

Participation in different types of gambling by age:

Problem_Gambling-Finland3

UNITED KINGDOM

The National Centre for Social Research has found from the 2001 British Prevalence Gambling Survey that Britains have a positive perception about gambling and the National Lottery in particular, where 72% of the population gambled in a year prior to the survey and 65% of the population bought a National Lottery ticket. 53% of the population had gambled in a week prior to the survey and 47% bought a lottery ticket.

Compared with many other countries it appears that the British are less likely to gamble, at least given the current regulation. While only 72% of British adults gambled in the past year, nine in ten adults do so in Sweden and New Zealand, and eight in ten in Australia. In the USA, however, it is only 63% who gamble, considerably less then in the UK.

There is only 7% of the population who are “multiple interest gamblers”, one-third buy only National Lottery tickets and another third participate only in one or two activities. Men are more likely to gamble than women and 16-24 year olds and those over 65 are less likely to gamble. Different social classes exhibit different gambling preferences. In addition, the level of participation in gambling activities tends to increase along with household income until around £36,000 and after that, participation level steadied and even slightly declined.

The likely number of problem gamblers in Britain is 370,000 according to the SOGS instrument and 275,000 according to the DSM-IV, where SOGS and DSM-IV are different screening tests, estimating the prevalence of problem gambling is 0.8% (SOCS) and 0.6% (DSM-IV). Compared with other countries the prevalence of problem gambling in Britain appears to be relatively low to average.

Multivariate analysis revealed that the typical problem gambler is male, from the lowest income group, and is separated or divorced, with a parent who was or had been a problem gambler. This suggests that gambling might be regressive and problem gamblers come from an already problematic background, which can trigger not only problem gambler behaviour, but also all sorts of other behaviours.

A survey conducted by National Opinion Polls on behalf of the Department for Culture Media, and Sport during February 2004 found that the number of British citizens who had gambled during the previous year was 71%, 2% less than the number who reported they had five years previously to the British Gambling Prevalence Study. Generally fewer people are participating in most forms of gambling, with the exception of bingo, sports and events betting and greyhound race betting. The most noticeable declines are in scratch card, lotteries, gaming machines and football pools betting. The prevalence of gambling during the previous seven days has also fallen suggesting that the frequency of gambling may well have fallen for the majority of forms of gambling.

© European Union

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