When gambling is no longer a game: adolescents have twice as many gambling problems as adults

  • Soccer hooks by the association of sport-euphoria-euphoria-evasion-distraction that watching a match provokes. But also because of the excitement generated by knowing the results, more than for the spectacle itself.
  • Spaniards spent more than €669 million on online gambling in 2018, of which 52% went to betting – also in sports – 34% to casinos and 11% to online poker
  • Online gamblers are between 18 and 35 years old. The profiles most vulnerable to gambling addiction are minors and people with behavioral problems or in situations of social risk. Compulsive gambling affects more men than women.

Barcelona, August 19, 2019 – Last Saturday began the new season of the Spanish soccer league, and ahead 38 sports days that will focus the attention of millions of people, and not just fans. This social phenomenon engages due to the association of football-euphoria-evasion-distraction that watching a match provokes, but at the same time due to the expectation and excitement of knowing the results, even above the spectacle itself, say the experts at Top Doctors.

In addition to the social attraction, soccer moves large amounts of money at a business level, both within the sector and in the field of betting, which has been encouraged by digitalization and has become a potential problem for those who decide to bet. Likewise, gambling houses invest heavily in advertising before, during and after each match, even sponsoring big teams and using their stars as a lure, which encourages the desire to bet. “Sports betting generates important revenues and this can make the bettor look only for a profit without being interested in the sport itself, which can lead to a devaluation of the event,” explains psychologist Patricia Colovini at the CITA clinic, a member center of Top Doctors.

Minors and people with behavioral problems are the most vulnerable to gambling addiction.

In Spain, the legal age for gambling is 18 years old. However, since gambling entered the digital era, the number of bets and, therefore, the number of gambling addicts has increased, especially among minors. “Numerous studies in different parts of the world have shown that the prevalence of problem gambling behavior among adolescents is at least double that found in adults. The stimulating effect of gambling may be able to temporarily alleviate states of anxiety and sadness, which are frequent throughout adolescence,” says psychiatrist Ponce Alfaro, a member of Top Doctors.

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The normalization of gambling behavior by society, and the growing presence of gambling houses in economically disadvantaged areas, encourage people with behavioral problems or in situations of social risk to become another of the most vulnerable profiles. Likewise, pathological gambling is a problem that affects more men than women. “If the time dedicated to gambling is increasing, or if gambling is seen as a way to solve economic problems, it could be that the gambler is developing a problem of compulsive gambling. The consequences of not treating this addiction in time can be enormous for both the person and his or her environment”, assures Mr. Antonio Riera, general health psychologist and member of Top Doctors.

When gambling is no longer a game

According to the latest data from the Dirección General de la Ordenación al Juego, Spaniards spent more than €669 million in 2018 on online gambling, of which 52% was spent on betting – including sports betting – 34% on casino and 11% on online poker. “Bookmakers using the figure of famous footballers attract the attention of people who bet at the mercy of market strategies, hiding the intention to capture addicts and turn them into ludopaths. This demeans an honest sport and a healthy diversion such as soccer,” Colovini assures.

Most online gamblers are between 18 and 35 years old, according to data from the Spanish Federation of Rehabilitated Gamblers (FEJAR). However, when the ease of access to this type of practice can lead to an addictive disorder, which will eventually affect both those who suffer from it and their environment. “Acute stress responses, release of adrenaline, activation of the heart and respiratory rate are some of the reactions caused by gambling. If the relationship is addictive, excessive stress will be the main symptom revealing deeper deficits in the gambler. At the same time, it is often linked to other risky behaviors such as excessive alcohol consumption,” says the psychologist.

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