Corona Crisis Increases the Risk of Online Gambling Addiction
As the coronavirus pandemic halted all major sports competitions, betting companies are now hunting for customers on the internet. Online gambling is on the rise, experts warn of the dangers of addiction.
Sports betting has existed for a long time in many forms, all oriented towards the outcome of sports competitions. But what if all major sporting events are canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
Most betting companies immediately reacted and rushed into the virtual world, sharpening competition with online betting companies that have been operating for a long time. There are various forms of betting offered: virtual sports matches, bingo games, poker, to virtual casinos.
The situation is dangerous for those with potential gambling addictions , say experts and activists working on tackling addiction. “It’s been a terrible storm,” said James Grimes, a recovering gambling addict who now campaigns against advertising on sports betting through his organization The Big Step.
“For people who don’t usually gamble, they may see gambling as merely entertainment to fill a void. But there are also many people who are financially affected. Gambling advertisements create the wrong impression that gambling is a great way to make quick money. ,” James Grimes told DW.
Many governments and health authorities are now observing the rapid increase in online gambling and betting. The Belgian government recently tightened the rules for online betting by announcing a deposit limit of €500 a week. But that rule can only be applied to local betting site managers. The Spanish government imposed a limit on gambling advertisements that were only allowed to run on a four-hour window, between 1 and 5 in the morning. Latvia has banned online gambling until the social restrictions are lifted.
However, it is not easy to limit online gambling. Sources working in the field say the shift to virtual and skill-based casino games such as poker and backgammon has accelerated almost worldwide.
A recent study by the UK Gambling Commission found that 1.2 per cent of people who gamble have serious problems. For online gambling, that figure is even higher, at 2.5 percent.
Online betting companies are also getting more creative. Bet365, one of the world’s largest betting sites, for example shows a virtual football match between the fictional Chelsea Pensioners and the Manchester Blues. People can bet on the result of the match, number of goals, first team to score, etc.
Gambling can cause mental problems
The fictional football match was generated by a computer http://220.127.116.11/ and lasted only three minutes. So bettors now don’t have to wait 90 minutes for the football match to end as usual. After the match ends three minutes, the next match starts immediately, and people can bet again. Experts warn that addiction is also influenced by how often a person gambles. With the business model of a three-minute fictitious football match, the threat of addiction is even higher.
In early April, nearly 5 million people watched Britain’s ITV Virtual Grand National broadcast. Profits from the virtual match reached US$3.3 million and were donated to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
Betting companies and gaming companies often highlight their role and contribution to sporting and social activities. They also donate funds to addiction prevention programs. But in times of lockdown in many places, James Grimes fears there will be a new wave of addiction.
Although there are no statistics that directly calculate the impact of gambling addiction, experts say, in addition to bankruptcy, gambling addiction also often results in mental problems to suicide.
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