Young men in particular are particularly susceptible to this disease. Many are not aware that gambling addiction is one of the most expensive mental illnesses – but not for those affected, but for the health system.
Over 10 000 000 people have problematic gambling behavior
According to current study data, around 10 000 000 people in the world have problem gambling behavior or are affected by gambling addiction. A somewhat older study by the BZgA from 2019 comes to the result that three out of four people between the ages of 16 and 70 have already participated in a game of chance at least once.
In a current statement, the acting head of the BZgA, Prof. Dr. Martin Dietrich, explicitly on the dangers of online gambling:
“Compared to other types of gambling, online gambling is associated with an increased risk of addiction. The increased risk of addiction is due to the fact that online games of chance can be played around the clock, anytime, anywhere. The Federal Center for Health Education study data show that almost every fifth player in online casino games shows problematic or dependent gambling behavior. That is why the Federal Center for Health Education supports you with quality-assured offers to prevent this risk of addiction. “
How do I recognize a gambling addiction?
There are now various self-tests on the Internet that gambling fans can use to find out whether they may be addicted to gambling. The BZgA has published a self-test that can be carried out quickly on its online portal “Check your game”. The test is anonymous and can be completed within a few minutes.
In addition, there are of course typical “symptoms” that can sometimes be used to identify gambling addiction. First of all, one should know in this regard that gambling addiction often develops in a slow process that sometimes takes several years. After a while, the phase of pleasure is followed by the phase of excessive gaming. Here the affected person loses control over his gaming behavior and is already playing out of inner compulsion. It often takes several years before the person concerned realizes his illness and takes professional help.
The following symptoms can indicate a possible addictive behavior in the person concerned:
- An irresistible need to keep playing
- Loss of control of the player cannot stop playing
- The “kick” can only be achieved if the stakes are regularly increased
- Without gambling activities, the person concerned becomes irritable and restless
- The person concerned invests a lot of time in the gaming activities and uses every opportunity to raise money. In some cases, those affected try to raise money to play games illegally (= crime related to acquisitions)
According to the BZgA, young male adults up to the age of 25 are particularly often affected by gambling addiction or problematic gambling behavior. People with low incomes and people with a migrant background are also more often affected by problematic gambling behavior.
How can you combat addiction to gambling?
First of all, you should know that both gambling addiction and problematic gambling behavior do not depend on profit and loss. A high profit can even make recognizing problematic gaming behavior noticeably more difficult, as the person concerned has the subjective impression of having done “everything right”. In order to effectively combat gambling addiction, however, the person concerned must first admit to being addicted to gambling. As described above, however, it can take several years until this point in time. By then, large amounts of money are usually already gambled away.
At the end of a “playing career”, in the majority of cases there is a high level of debt on the part of the person concerned. Just over one in four gambling addicts (28%) have no debt. By contrast, around one in five gambling addicts (18%) owes at least 25,000 euros.
Gambling addict – yes or no?
In order for a doctor to be able to make a medical diagnosis of gambling addiction, at least five of the following ten criteria must be met. This is based on the criteria of the Diagnostic and Static Manuals of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
You are addicted to gambling if …
- You think about gambling all the time
- You continuously increase the stakes
- You are trying unsuccessfully to control your gambling or to stop
- You get restless or irritable when you try not to play
- You keep playing despite financial problems
- You often play secretly and lie to friends or family in order to be able to continue playing
- You play to distract yourself from other problems and to feel better about yourself
- You commit crimes in order to keep playing
- You ask other people for money to keep playing
- You neglect through gambling, partnership, family, friends and the job
The BZgA is currently pointing out the increased risk of gambling addiction in online gambling. Accordingly, the risk of addiction is caused by the fact that online game libraries can be visited around the clock and anywhere. Furthermore, the study data of the BZgA show that almost every fifth player in online casinos and online game libraries exhibits problematic or even dependent gambling behavior.