Germany’s Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) is once again raising the alarm of risks online sports betting brings, calling for a watershed ban on gambling advertising.
Gambling Advertising Fuels Problem Gambling
To mark the national Gambling Addiction Day on September 28, the federal health body and the federal Commissioner for Addiction and Drug Issues Burkhard Blienert turned the public attention to the issues of problem gambling.
Federal Government Commissioner Blienert fired a shot at the online gambling industry that is heavily dependent on advertising, claiming that gambling advertising and advertising for online sports betting is “spreading at breakneck speed.”
Blienert found this trend concerning in the background of hundreds of thousands of people that are already experiencing one way or another problem gambling or even gambling addiction and urged German states to prohibit gambling advertisements by implementing a watershed ban before 9 pm on both TV and the internet.
The Commissioner based his statement on current BZgA gambling survey data which revealed that around 229,000 adult Germans are showing signs of problem gambling and around 200,000 can already be considered pathological gamblers.
Risks of developing problem gambling or pathological gambling have been exacerbated since July 1, 2021, when the fourth State Treaty on Gambling came into force to allow online sports betting in the country as studies found risk is particularly high among online gambling players and sports bettors. One year later, the country also has its federal gambling regulator.
Also concerned with the “particularly high risk of addiction from gambling offers on the internet” due to their availability at all times and promise of high winnings, Prof. Dr. Martin Dietrich, acting director of the BZgA, stressed the importance of raising public awareness of the risks involved with online gambling. He stated that the BZgA would fully support calls for online programs that would lead to changes in gambling behavior.
Problem Gambling and Gambling Disorders
The BZgA also used the occasion to remind online gamblers that the first signs of problem gambling can be something that looks inferior at first sight like neglecting other obligations in favor of gambling or exceeding the usual spending by dedicating more money than is available.
The center provides information online as part of the “Check Your Game” campaign, offering those who want to check whether their gambling behavior is unproblematic by using an online self-test at the website dedicated to the campaign, www.check-dein-spiel.de.
Upon the test results, those who show signs of problem gambling are offered to take the free online behavior change program called “Check Out” and are given further information on the support and advice services available, including for their relatives.
For pathological gambling that has been officially recognized as a “gambling disorder” disease and included in the international classification system, the BZgA is offering support in the form of individual e-mail counseling and online counseling programs.