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Saturday 14.12.2019 | Name days: Gaisma, Auseklis

Ministry reports more than 79 000 people suffer from gambling addiction in Latvia

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUIn absolute numbers, a total of 79 119 people aged 15-64 in Latvia suffer from gambling addiction at different degrees. For 16 162 of them, this addiction has already reached peak level, as reported by Latvia’s Welfare Ministry in its study on gambling, computer game and excessive internet habits in Latvia.

The study’s results reveal that approximately 6.4% of respondents are affected by problematic gambling (incl. lotteries). Other studies show that in the Czech Republic excessive gambling is a problem for 5.7% of respondents, and for 1.4% of them this is a serious addiction; 4.7% in Britain with 0.8% of respondents suffering from a serious gambling addiction. In Estonia, problems from lotteries are admitted by 8% of respondents, with 2% admitting having a serious addiction, the Healthcare Ministry reports.

The study concludes that about 0.5% of all respondents in Latvia suffer from video game addiction. Another 2.4% of respondents admit having problems with video games. Looking at absolute numbers, problems are admitted by 32 286 residents aged 15-64 and 5 642 of them could be suffering from video game addiction. In Norway, problems with video games are admitted by 4.1% of respondents and addiction is admitted by 0.6% of them.

In regards to excessive internet use the study reveals that this problem exists for 7% of respondents or 90 482 residents aged 15-64. Problematic internet use habits are admitted by 3% of respondents or 36 079.

At the same time, the study also reveals that Latvian residents are critical towards gambling halls.

77% of respondents say there are too many gambling halls in Latvia.

65% of respondents agree there are too many places in Latvia where people can buy lottery tickets. 59% of respondents support completely closing all gambling halls. Organization of gambling and lotteries only in certain locations is supported by 77% of respondents.

Welfare Ministry believes results of the study shows the need to adopt stricter requirements for gambling halls and casinos. To improve the situation, the ministry intends to propose on top of already voiced proposals the bank on smoking in gambling halls, limit bonuses and introduce other requirements to reduce the damage caused to society.

The ministry notes that work has been done on development Gambling and Lottery Policy Guidelines 2019-2026, proposing putting a limit on accessibility of gambling and increasing society’s awareness of gambling addiction, as well as expanding the range of people eligible to receive help. Now that the ministry has results of a very in-depth analysis on factors that influence gambling addiction the institution wants to ask Finance Ministry to expand Gambling Guidelines with following proposals:

1.Prohibit smoking in gambling halls and casinos. The study concludes that 49% of non-smokers have never engaged in gambling, whereas the proportion of smokers who partake in gambling regularly is 31%. By adopting restrictions on smoking it will make this environment less attractive to people.

2.Adopt restrictions on gambling halls offering free alcohol drinks. Study data shows that 60% of residents who have not consumed alcohol in the past 12 months said they have never engaged in gambling. The more often and the larger the dose of alcohol is provided, the more often people engage in gambling. Abolishment of such bonuses would help people maintain control and properly assess gambling risks.

3.Separate gambling activities from rooms in which catering services are provided. This is needed for that a person would not experience a desire to play slot machines if they enter a café or other catering service establishment for a cup of coffee. On top of that, people would not be able to combine meals with gambling.

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