Gambling and young people should be strictly separated from each other. While adults can generally assess the risks and opportunities of gambling well, this is often not the case with children and adolescents. This can have serious consequences. In Spain, these consequences now seem to be being felt. According to a study of the Spanish Federation of Former Gamblers (FEJAR) and the Association of Madrid Psychologists, there is a clear problem with gambling among Spanish adolescents. Around one in five young people is said to be affected.
Leader in European comparison?
In Spain, the recently published study causes a lot of sensation. No miracle: Immermhin it is stated here that one of five Spanish young people suffers from a play problem. This in turn would mean that the Spanish youths are the youths with the highest proportion of problem players in a European comparison. What is particularly striking here is the fact that gambling as a popular leisure activity has shifted completely towards a younger group of people. Until a few years ago, Spaniards between the ages of 35 and 45 were particularly noticeable. Meanwhile the most players in the group of the 18- to 25-year-olds are to be found.
Reasons for this questionable rise supply the study likewise. Thus children and young people would be influenced for example by the advertising measures of the industry . These would also be seen on television if children and adolescents watched programmes or sporting events. In addition, the study found that in the last three years more than 40 venues had been opened in poorer districts and in the immediate vicinity of schools. This had also ensured that gambling among young people and children was accepted earlier and earlier and taken for granted.
Social networks and technologies promote gambling behaviour
But the study does not only see certain wrong decisions in Spain in television or stationary retail. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram also play a major role. These networks are mainly used by young people, who are at the mercy of the gambling companies’ advertising here at all times. In addition, especially young people would be easily attracted by bonus offers or special campaigns. Guillermo Ponce sees another danger as a psychiatrist specialising in gambling addiction in the fact that, as a result of digitalisation, young people could access gambling offers, such as real money slot machines on the Internet from almost anywhere. A consequence: Young people are now more often affected by problematic gambling behaviour than adults. “Numerous studies have already shown that problematic gambling behaviour occurs at least twice as frequently among adolescents as among adults,” explains Ponce.
Ebenso, the psychiatrist stated that children and adolescents are particularly at risk because they are particularly susceptible to rewards. Thus a larger and more excessive inclination to gambling can be recognized. Many young people would also be able to forget or hide states of fear and sadness in the game. Here it concerns a special danger, there actual problems are temporarily covered by the gambling . But: As alarming as the development among young people in Spain is, the view of adults is more pleasing. Only four percent of the adult population play according to a survey conducted by Gambling and Society in 2019. In addition, only one percent of adults stated that they play regularly.
What is to be changed?
Both organisations involved in the study are now demanding extensive measures in Spain to tackle the problem. One measure could therefore be that the opening of betting offices and gaming halls near schools will be banned in future . In addition to this, a police officer from Madrid recently demanded that television advertising be restricted and regulated. In detail I expressed the man as follows:
“They show this advertising in the morning when children’s programmes are broadcast and at any other time of day. And if you then have a famous person like Cristiano Ronaldo in the commercials they admire, the effect is even greater. The worst thing that can happen to a young person is that he wins.”
In Spanish politics the demands of citizens and critics have already been taken up. Thus already in August about a possible advertising prohibition was discussed, which is to forbid possibly generally the advertisement for gambling . An agreement was not reached here however yet and thus it will take still longer time, until any changes here finally also take effect.
Young problem players are difficult to grasp
All around the grasp of the problematic young players Spanish politics accompanies a problem. This is because they cannot simply be recorded, but often use parents’ credit cards, for example, for their gambling bets. Games of chance in Spain are also only permitted from the age of 18, but compliance with the rules, at least in the digital field, is very difficult to verify. In the stationary sector, on the other hand, young people are only allowed to enter a venue or a betting office if they can prove that they are of age. Precisely because digital gaming plays a major role among young people in the meantime, however, the organisations in the study see parents also as responsible for . These should supervise the gambling activities of the children in the future more strongly and provide in such a way for the fact that the desire for the play does not win over hand. In the future, therefore, closer cooperation between parents and organisations should obviously also be established.
Spain is therefore already doing quite a bit to get a grip on the problematic development within the coming years. It is safe however also that the organizations here alone only little will be able to align . The government is here at least just as strongly demanded. After all only these can place finally the suitable basic conditions for a safe and transparent gambling on the legs.