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Millions in Germany addicted to gambling

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-11-15 09:46

Germany has a huge problem with gambling, with 4.6 million adults in the nation of 83 million addicted to it, the country's Federal Drugs Commission has reported.

In a new report, the commission says around 1.3 million adults in Germany have lives that revolve almost entirely around gambling, with them spending an average of $800 a month on their habit.

A further 3.3 million people are close to that, but are managing to combine their gambling with slightly fuller lives.

Burkhard Blienert, who heads up the commission, said as he unveiled The Gambling Atlas 2023 this week: "Gambling rarely makes its participants happy."

Instead, he said, people frequently develop massive debts and sacrifice marriages and relationships to feed their obsession.

Blienert told the Deutsche Welle news agency opportunities to gamble are far too common in Germany, presenting temptation that many cannot resist.

"When you call up the Bundesliga (soccer league) results on your smartphone, you're immediately confronted with offers from sports betting companies," he said as he called for tighter restrictions on gambling on live sports events.

He also said gambling is often disguised in television commercials as fun games for young people, something he would also like to see better regulated, with prohibitions on such ads after 11 pm.

"When young people are tempted into gambling via seemingly harmless games, then something isn't right," he said.

The commission's report drew on data from 2021 to conclude that 30 percent of German adults gamble to some extent, and that 7.7 percent encounter financial, social, or health problems as a result.

The report said young men and people who had moved to Germany from other countries were most at risk of developing a gambling problem. People with psychological disorders and alcohol abusers were also particularly susceptible.

The report, which was produced with support from the Institute for Interdisciplinary Addiction and Drug Research, the German Centre for Addiction Issues, and the Gambling Research Department at the University of Bremen, said Germany's gambling addicts frequently suffer a loss of control that leads them to gamble increasingly large sums.

Many, the report said, lie to conceal their addictions and become isolated from family and friends.

The German gambling industry recorded gross annual revenue of $14.3 billion in 2021, which meant the state collected $5.6 billion in taxes — more than double what it collected from the alcohol industry.

While there was a big benefit to the nation in the form of taxes, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency said the 44.1 billion euros spent on legal gambling in Germany during 2021 could have easily covered the cost of running the city of Berlin for a year.

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