SiGMA News is digging deep into the causes of addiction. In a three part series we’ll be taking a look at gambling addiction, its symptoms, triggers and possible treatment
Problem gambling is sometimes referred to as the "hidden illness" as unlike substance addiction the signs of a gambler are mostly hidden. According to various researchers, about five out of every 100 gamblers fall victims to gambling.
This year, the gaming industry has seen a surge in banning ads in different regions worldwide. Government entities are taking unilateral measures to calm the wave of gambling addiction. A new legislation approved in November in Spain, imposed a total ban on betting and gaming ads online, as well as on social media. In the UK, we've also seen the ban of celebrities such as sports personalities in gambling ads. All these restrictions are aimed to help crack down on gambling marketing leading to addiction.
What's Malta's take on this?
Speaking to SiGMA News, Kayne Said, an executive at the island's Responsible Gaming Foundation said that the Foundation believes the regulation of gambling advertisements is fundamental to ensure that the relevant safeguards are in place to address problem gambling. Whilst the banning of gambling ads in their entirety may lead to a reduction in the dissemination of gambling-related material, it may not necessarily lead to the eradication of the problem.
The Malta Gaming Authority is cognizant of the importance of effective regulation and whilst there is no complete ban on gambling advertising in the Maltese legal framework, the regulation of gambling advertisements is considered to be an integral part of the Authority’s mission to ensure player protection and responsible gambling. This has been reflected in the measures adopted by the Authority, including the enactment of Gaming Commercial Communications Regulations and the establishment of a specific Committee responsible for monitoring and reviewing commercial communications for the purpose of ensuring compliance with applicable legislation.
Moreover, the Commercial Communications Committee published guidelines, which provide practical instructions to any person offering licensable games and to those who collaborate or provide any service, including any marketing or promotional service, to or on behalf of such persons.
Mr Said insisted that "the committee is also constantly in touch with industry stakeholders and also publishes its decisions periodically in order to ensure transparency and foster education for the general public."
With gambling opportunities expanding worldwide, especially online, researchers have been focusing more attention on this particular topic. It is important to note that although some argue that gambling has become very easily attainable, the cause for addiction is the inability for that person to control their gambling habits.
It is argued that research and clinical interventions are best served by a biopsychosocial approach that incorporates the best strands of contemporary psychology, biology and sociology.
The biopsychosocial model is another over complex approach to addiction. The reason we as humans keep coming up with new models to find the answers to gambling addiction is because we are lost in our intellect, and have simply failed to take a step back and see what is true about all human beings, where our mental health comes from and the simple misunderstanding that is addiction.
Psychology and psychiatry, money and people’s statuses have been driving the growth of new ideas forward for many years now, when actually the answer to complexity lies in simplicity."
In a nutshell:
According to research, 80% of Americans have gambled in some form or another. Five out of 100 gamblers are addicts.
Problem gambling has few recognisable symptoms and many gamblers do not recognise they have a problem. Self-denial is often present.
Stay tuned for the next article which will focus on gambling addiction and its relation with sex addiction.
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