Spain has been the country with the highest young people gambling addiction rate on the territory of Europe.
According to recent reports of the local Federation of Rehabilitated Gamblers and Madrid’s Association of Psychologists, young people between 14 and 21 years of age in Spain are addicted to gambling, and especially to sports betting, than their counterparts in any other country across Europe. Both of the aforementioned organizations have been urging the Spanish authorities to unveil stricter regulatory rules for gambling operators and advertisers in order to tackle the concerning trend.
The data included in the reports has shown that the number of betting shops in Madrid has considerably risen by the stunning 300% since 2013. The capital has seen 40 gambling establishments to open in Vallecas, Ciudad Lineal and Usera, which are known as neighborhoods that host people from the working class, since 2016.
The Regional Government of Madrid has confirmed there has been a considerable growth of problem gambling rates among teenagers, saying that the trend had emerged as one of the reasons why it has been considering a measure under which all gambling operators would be banned from opening betting shops within a radius of 100 meters of schools and other educational institutions. Still, even if this safety perimeter regulation is brought into effect and ID checks in betting shops become stricter, experts say that Spanish citizens would still easily access such activities through gambling operators that offer their services online.
Underage Individuals Can Easily Access Gambling Services Online
According to reports, the most used way for the 14-21 age group to access gambling services is indeed the Internet, where youngsters usually start by betting on sports and getting themselves involved with online poker.
The country’s authorities and regulators have been blamed for the fact they still permit gambling adverts to be broadcast on TV at all times of the day. According to experts, using famous people and professional athletes in such adverts could have an even greater impact on underage individuals and push them to gambling.
Earlier this year, a survey which was held among 4,000 young people in Spain showed that 21% of individuals between 10 and 25 years of age suffer from behavioral disorders caused by technology. As it was revealed at the time, the results of the survey would have been included in the Health Ministry’s new National Drugs Plan. However, addiction to technology is currently not considered an illness and is still not included as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) which is compiled by the American Psychiatric Association.
At the time when the results of the above-mentioned survey were made public, the vice president of the Spanish Society of Psychiatry (SEP), Celso Arango, explained that to date, there is still no protocol how to act in these cases. Mr. Arango further noted that experts should be able to see the difference between addiction and excessive consumption and tell which one is which.