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6.92 billion potential gamblers, all with online access

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How gambling addiction is a worldwide problem and needs a worldwide solution – online. 

For millennia the number of gambling addicts has been largely self-regulating, usually by a tragic journey to bankruptcy or worse.

Not so today. According to Statista, there are approximately 6.92 billion smartphone users in the world today – 85.88% of the world’s population. Gambling is no longer an activity tied to a location. We can bet nearly everywhere, from anywhere with a phone signal. Every smartphone enables easy financial transactions. They are the innocent tool by which a gambler may become an addict.

Easy access provides temptation

With a smartphone or computer to hand, and few effective safeguards for those vulnerable to addiction, the number of gambling addicts continues to grow.

Statistics vary. Currently, the UK government estimates that 0.5% of the population is addicted to gambling1. Yale Medicine2 estimates that 1% of the US population has the same problem. Meanwhile, the charity QuitGamble.com3 quotes 2.8% and at least 1.2% (and possibly over 6%) respectively.

The precise numbers do matter but perhaps they are not the point. More important is the sheer scale of the problem and the damage that gambling addiction causes to the addicts and those around them.

Collateral damage is not only financial. The loss of trust within families can be just as destructive as financial ruin, and individuals with gambling problems are significantly3 more prone to suicide than those without.

Not every gambler is addicted

Not every gambler is a gambling addict, but many may be pre-disposed to become one. This is neatly explained by Adhi Wibowo Nurhidayat, a psychiatrist at the University of Indonesia, Jakarta4.

One characteristic is dysregulation in the parts of the brain controlling significant cognitive and social functions. Impulses are less easily controlled; the desire for gratification is disproportionately powerful. It’s a similar process, Adhi explains, to that experienced by users of many illegal drugs. Cravings overrule rational choices.

What’s the solution to problem gambling?

Laws could be strengthened. There could be cap a on “free” betting offers that suck in the new gamblers or reward the regulars. Online gambling platforms could be obliged by law (and jump through numerous administrative hoops in the process) to screen participants for the likelihood of their being or becoming an addict.

To generalise, when it comes to gambling addiction, most governments do too little too late. But given the likely continued growth of problem gambling, something does need to be done.

In fact, it is the operators of gambling platforms who have the most to gain from taking the initiative. If they can show awareness of, and a response to, the problems around gambling addiction, then the likelihood of heavy-handed regulation is significantly reduced.

An effective online solution exists already!

Imagine a cloud-based service which can monitor individual behaviour and transactions securely, constantly, and in real time. Imagine it can do so via multiple databases simultaneously.

Imagine this service can be used by individual businesses, and jointly by co-operating organisations. Gone is the addict’s capacity to hide their debts in different accounts, on different cards, and across different platforms.

With such a service, everyone involved can protect their own interests plus the welfare of existing and potential addicts, and their dependents.

Imagine no more.  That service exists. That service is Compli from Essiell-Compli.

If you’d like to find out more about how Essiell Compli and Compli can help identify problem gambling and protect businesses, communities, and families, get in touch via our website, www.essiell-compli.com , or email to enquiries@essiell-compli.com   

By Bjorn Larsson Chairman of Essiell Compli.

1 Gambling-related harms evidence review: summary, Updated 11 January 2023

2 https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/gambling-disorder

3 Gambling Addiction Statistics & Facts 2023, QuitGamble.com

4 Psychiatrist Reveals Why People Get Addicted to Online Gambling

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